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THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

BY COUNT BALDESAR 

CASTIGLIONE 




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BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE 

COUNT OF NOVILLARA 

1478 -1529 

Reduced from Braun's photograph (no. 11.505) of the portrait ia the Louvre, painted in 
1516 by Raphael (1483- 1530). The original belonged to Charles I of England, after 
whose death it was bought by a Dutch collector and copied by Rubens. Later it 
became the property of Cardinal Mazarin, from whose heirs it vras acquired for Louis 
XIV of France 

The medallion on the title-page is from a photograph, specially made by Mansell, of a cast, 
kindly furnished by T. Whitcombe Greene, Esq., of an anonymous medal in his collec- 
tion at Chandler's Ford, Hampshire. See the late Alfred Armand's Zes MMailleurt 
Ilalifns, a, 100, 00. 10. 



1 



THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

BY COUNT BALDESAR 

CASTIGLIONE 

(1528) 




TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN 
BY LEONARD ECKSTEIN OPDYCKE 



WITH TWELVE PORTRAITS AND FIFTEEN AUTOGRAPHS 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1903 





Copyright, 1901, 1903, by 
LioNABB Eckstein Opdycki 



The Book of the Courtier was written, 
partly at Urbino and partly at Rome, be- 
tween the years 1508 and 1.S16. and was first 
printed at the Aldine Press, Venice, in the 
month of April, 1528. 

There have since been published more than one 
hundred and forty editions, a list of which 
will be found at page 417 of this volume. 
The first Spanish version, by Juan Boscan 
Almogaver, was issued at Barcelona in 
1534; the first French version, by Jacques 
Colin, was issued at Paris in 1537 ; the first 
English version, by THOMAS HOBY, was is- 
sued at London in 1561 ; the first Latin ver- 
sion, by Hieronymus Turler, was issued 
at Wittenberg in 1561 ; the first German ver- 
sion, by LoRENZ Kratzer, was issued at 
Munich in 1566. 



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE 

Reasons for presenting this old book anew were found in the esteem that it 
long enjoyed, in the rank still held by it in Italian literature, and in the fact 
that, of three former English versions, the first (recently twice reprinted) is 
too antiquated to be readily intelligible to the general reader, while the other 
two (published more than one hundred and fifty years ago) are seldom met in 
any but large public libraries. 

When Castiglione wrote, the sturdy Knight of earlier ages had become the 
accomplished Courtier. In describing this new hero, the author gave utter- 
ance to the finest aspirations of his day. Life was, it is true, sometimes gross 
and violent, but even if the delicate and gentle beauty of Renaissance art 
furnished us no evidence, these pages would suffice to show that a loftier 
standard^ofjhought^and conduct had been raised.^ The book will not lack 
interest until mankind ceases to be interesting to man, and will reward study 
so long as the past shall continue to instruct the present and the future. 

The only deviations that the translator has consciously made from the 
letter of the original were deemed necessary to render its meaning clear. 
The notes that he offers are intended to give further light on obscure pas- 
sages and to relieve the reader from the tedium of searching in books of ref- 
erence. No one, perhaps, will take it amiss to be reminded of what all may 
have known but few are able to remember with precision. 

The translator desires to repeat his thanks for the friendly encouragement 
that he received from Miss Grace Norton, at whose suggestion his task was 
undertaken. He is indebted to Dr. Luigi Roversi and Signor Leopoldo Jung 
for patient aid, to Professor Hastings Crossley for revision of the notes, and 
to Signor Alessandro Luzio and other scholars for the kindness with which 
they contributed iconographical and bibliographical data. He gratefully 
acknowledges, also, his constant use of the material contained in Professor 
Vittorio Cian's admirable edition of the text. 

The second issue of the present translation has afforded opportunity for 
some corrections. 



CONTENTS 

(The Arabic numerals given below refer to the numbered parag^raphs 
into wliicli it has long been customary to divide the work) 

Page 
WST OF PLATES xi 

INTERLOCUTORS xii 

THE AUTHOR'S DEDICATORY LETTER I 

Reasons for writing the book, and for at first delaying and afterwards hastening its 
publication. Lament at the recent death of several persons mentioned in the book. 
Answer to three objections: that the book was not written in the language of Boc- 
caccio; that, as it is impossible to find a perfect Courtier, it was superfluous to de- 
scribe one ; and that the author presumed to paint his own portrait. 

THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 7 

I : The book written at the instance of Alfonso Ariosto and in dialogue form, in order 
to record certain discussions held at the court of Urbino. 2-3 : Description and 
praise of Urbino and its lords; Duke Federico and his son Guidobaldo. 4-5: The 
Urbino court and the persons taking part in the discussions. 6 : Circumstances 
that led to the discussions; visit of Pope Julius II. 7-11 : Various games proposed. 
12 : Game finally chosen : to describe a perfect Courtier. 13-6 : Canossa begins the 
discussion by enumerating some of the conditions essential to the Courtier, — espe- 
cially gentle birth. 17-8 : Arms the true profession of the Courtier, who must, how- 
ever, avoid arrogance and boasting. 19-22 : Physical qualities and martial exercises. 
23 : Short bantering digression. 24-6 : Grace. 27-8 : Affectation. 29-39 '■ Literary 
and conversational style. 40 : Women's affectations. 41 : Moral qualities. 42-6 : 
Literary accomplishments; arms vs. letters. 47-8: Music. 49: Painting. 50-3: 
Painting vs. sculpture. 54-6 : Arrival of the youthful Francesco Maria della Rovere; 
the evening's entertainment ends with dancing. 

THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 75 

1-4: Reasons why the aged are wont to laud the past and to decry the present; de- 
fence of the present against such aspersions; praise of the court of Urbino. 5-6: 
Federico Fregoso begins the discussion on the way and time of employing the quali- 
ties and accomplishments described by Canossa : utility of such discussion. 7-8 : 
General rules : to avoid affectation, to speak and act discreetly and opportunely, to 
aim at honour and praise in martial exercises, war, and public contests. 9-10 : Other 
physical exercises. 11 : Dancing and masquerading. 12-3 : Music of various kinds, 
when to be practised. 14 : Aged Courtiers not to engage publicly in music and dan- 
cing. 15-6 : Duty of aged and youthful Courtiers to moderate the faults peculiar to their 
years. 17-25: Conversation, especially with superiors; how to win favours worthily. 
26-8 : Dress and ornament ; lamentable lack of fashions peculiarly Italian. 29-30 : 
Choice and treatment of friends. 31 : Games of cards and chess. 32-5 : Influence of 
preconceived opinions and first impressions ; advantage of being preceded by good 
reputation. 36 : Danger of going beyond bounds in the effort to be amusing. 37 : 
French and Spanish manners. 38 : Tact, modesty, kindness, readiness ; taking ad- 
vantage of opportunities ; confession of ignorance. 39-41 : Self-depreciation, deceit, 
moderation. 42-83: Pleasantries and witticisms expounded by Bibbiena. 84-97: 
Practical jokes; to be used discreetly, particularly where women are concerned; use 
of trickery and artifice in love ; dignity and nobility of women. 98-100 : Giuliano de' 
Medici chosen to describe the perfect Court Lady. 

ix 



CONTENTS 

Page 
THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 171 

I : Excellence of the court of Urbino to be estimated in much the same way in which 
Pythagoras calculated the stature of Hercules. 2-3 : Bantering preliminaries to the 
discussion on the Court Lady. 4 : Qualities common to the Courtier and to the Court 
Lady. 5-6 : The Court Lady to be affable, modest and decorous; to follow a middle 
course between prudishness and over-freedom ; to avoid scandal-mongering ; her 
conversation to have variety. 7-9: Physical and mental exercises of the Court 
Lady; her dress. 10-8: Women's importance; certain aspersions refuted. 19-20: 
Examples of saintly women contrasted with hypocritical friars. 21-7 : Examples of 
women famous for virtue, manly courage, constancy in love, pudicity. 28-33 '• Exam- 
ples of women who in ancient times did good service to the world in letters, in the 
sciences, in public life, in war. 34-6 : More recent examples of women noted for their 
virtue. 37-49: Chastity and continence. 50: Dangers to which womanly virtue is 
exposed. 51-3 : Further praise of women. 53-5 : The Court Lady's demeanour in 
love talk. 56-9 : Her conduct in love. 60-73 : The way to win and keep a woman's 
love ; its effects and signs ; secrecy in love. 74-5 : Pallavicino's aspersions against 
women. 76-7 : Ottaviano Fregoso is deputed to expound the other qualities that add • 
to the Courtier's perfections. 

THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 243 

1-2 : Eulogy of several other interlocutors whose death had recently occurred. 3-6 : 
Ottaviano Fregoso resumes the interrupted discussion, considers the Courtier's rela- 
tions with his prince, and urges the duty of employing his qualities and accomplish- 
ments so that his prince may be led to seek good and shun evil. 7-10 : Princes' need 
to know the truth, their difficulty in finding it, and the Courtier's duty to encourage 
them in the path of virtue. n-2 : Virtue not wholly innate, but susceptible of culti- 
vation. 13-6 : Ignorance the source of nearly all human errour. 17-8 : Temperance 
the perfect virtue, because it is the fountain of virtues. 19-24 : Monarchy vs. com- 
monwealth. 25-6 : Whether a contemplative or an active life is more befitting a 
prince. 27-8: Peace the aim of war ; the virtues befitting each. 29: Right training 
of princes to begin in habit and to be confirmed by reason. 30 : Humourous digres- 
sion. 31: Governo mlsto. 32-5: Attributesof a good prince : justice, devoutness, love 
of his subjects, and mild sway. 36-9 : Grand public works; the Crusades; eulogy of 
several young princes. 40 : Princes must avoid certain extremes. 41 : Princes must 
attend to details personally. 42 : Eulogy of the youthful Federico Gonzaga. 43-8 : 
Arguments supporting the theory that the Courtier's highest aim is the instruction of 
his prince. 49-52: Whether the Courtier ought to be in love; Bembo appointed to 
discourse on love and beauty. 53-4 : Evils and perils of sensual love. 55-6 : Di- 
gression concerning the love of old men. 57-60 : True beauty, the reflection of 
goodness. 61-4: In what manner the unyouthful Courtier ought to love; rational 
love contrasted with sensual love. 65-7 : Contemplation of abstract beauty. 68-9 : 
Contemplation of divine beauty. 70-1: Bembo's invocation to the Holy Spirit. 72: 
Instances in which a vision of divine beauty has been granted to mortals. 73: Ter- 
mination of the discussion at dawn. 

PRELIMINARY NOTES,— Life of the Author, etc 313 

NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 317 

NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 325 

NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 355 

NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 387 

NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 407 

LIST OF EDITIONS OF THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER 417 

INDEX 423 

X 



LIST OF PLATES 

1 BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE, Count of Novillara; Raphael; Frontispiece 

2 BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE; anonymous medal (obverse and reverse); . . Title-page 

Facing page 

3 GUIDOBALDO DI MONTEFELTRO, Duke of Urbino; Timoteo della Vite; ... i 

4 GUIDOBALDO DI MONTEFELTRO; Melozzo degliAmbrosi da Forli (?); ... g 

5 ELISABETTA GONZAGA, Duchess of Urbino ; Bonsignori (?) ; la 

6 COUNT LUDOVICO DA CANOSSA; anonymous; ao 

7 AUTOGRAPHS; 89 

8 AUTOGRAPHS; 96 

9 BERNARDO DOVIZI DA BIBBIENA; Raphael (?); 123 

10 AUTOGRAPHS; 169 

H GIULIANO DE' MEDICI; Alessandro Allori; 175 

12 EMILIA PIA ; medal by Giancristoforo Romano (?) ; 200 

13 BERNARDO ACCOLTI, the "Unico Aretino;" Giorgio Vasari; 228 

14 FRANCESCO MARIA DELLA ROVERE," My Lord Prefect;" Titian; .... 244 

15 PIETRO BEMBO ; medal by Benvenuto Cellini (?) ; a83 



XI 



INTERLOCUTORS 

ELISABETTA GONZAGA, wife of Guidobaldo di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino. Aged 46. 

EMILIA PIA, friend and companion of the Duchess, and widow of the Duke's half-brother. 
Aged about 30. 

MARGARITA GONZAGA, young niece and companion of the Duchess. 

COSTANZA FREGOSA, young half-niece of the Duke. 

FRANCESCO MARIA DELLA ROVERE, nephew and adopted heir of the Duke. Aged 17. 

Count LUDOVICO DA CANOSSA, a kinsman of the author, afterwards made Bishop of Bayeux. 
Aged 31. 

FEDERICO FREGOSO, half-nephew of the Duke, afterwards made a cardinal. Aged 27. 

GIULIANO DE' MEDICI, an exile from Florence, known at Urbino as "My lord Magnifico," 
and afterwards made Duke of Nemours. Aged 29. 

BERNARDO DO VIZI, better known as BIBBIEN A, an adherent of the Medici, afterwards made 
a cardinal. Aged 37. 

OTTAVIANO FREGOSO, elder brother of Costanza and Federico, afterwards Doge of Genoa. 

PIETRO BEMBO, a Venetian scholar and poet, afterwards made a cardinal. Aged 37. 

CESARE GONZAGA, a kinsman of the Duchess, and cousin as well as close friend of the author. 
Aged about 32. 

BERNARDO ACCOLTI, better known as the UNICO ARETINO, a courtier-poet and popular 
eztemporizer. Aged about 42. 

Count GASPAR PALLAVICINO. Aged 21. 

GIANCRISTOFORO ROMANO, a sculptor, medallist, etc. Aged about 42. 

COLLO VINCENZO CALMETA, a courtier-poet. 

LUDOVICO PIO, a brave young soldier, and kinsman of Emilia Pia. 

SIGISMONDO MORELLO DA ORTONA, an elderly courtier. 

Marquess FEBUS DI CEVA, 

NICCOLO FRISIO, 

}■ courtiers. 
PIETRO DA NAPOLI, 

ROBERTO MASSIMO DA BARI, 

Fra SERAFINO, a jester, 

Time : March 1507. 
Place : The Palace of Urbino.; 



7 




GUIDOBALDO DI MONTEFELTRO 

DUKE OF URBINO 

1472-1508 

Reversed enlargement of a part of Alinari^s photograph (no. 17.565) of a painting in the 
Cathedral at Urbino, by Timoteo della Vite (1469?-I523). The picture represents Saints 
Martin and Thomas, with kneeling figures of Bishop Arrivabeni and Duke Quidobaldo. 



TO THE REVEREND AND ILLUSTRIOUS 

LORD DOM MIGUEL DE SILVA,' 

BISHOP OF VISEU 

I.— When my lord Guidobaldo di Montefeltro/ Duke of Ur- 
bino, passed from this life, I, together with several other cavaliers 
who had served him, remained in the service of Duke Francesco 
Maria della Rovere,' his heir and successor in the State. And as 
the recollection of Duke Guido's character was fresh in my mind, 
and the delight I had during those years in the kind companion- 
ship of the notable persons who at that time frequented the Court 
of Urbino, I was moved by their memory to write these books of 
the Courtier, which I did in a few days,* purposing in time to 
correct those errours that arose from the wish to pay this debt 
speedily. But for many years past fortune has burdened me 
with toil so constant that I never could find leisure to make the 
book such as would content even my poor judgment. 

Now being in Spain,' and learning from Italy that my lady 
Vittoria della Colonna, Marchioness of Pescara," to whom I gave 
a copy of the book, had against her word caused a large part of 
it to be transcribed, I could not but feel some annoyance, fearing 
the many inconveniences that may befall in such cases. Still, I 
relied upon the wit and good sense of this lady (whose character 
I have always held in veneration as a thing divine) to prevent 
any mischief coming to me from having obeyed her wishes. Fi- 
nally I was informed that this part of the book was in the hands 
of many people at Naples; and as men are always eager for any- 
thing new, it seemed likely that someone might try to have it 
printed.' Alarmed at this peril, then, I resolved to revise the 
book at once so far as I had time, with intent to publish it; for I 
thought better to let it be seen imperfectly corrected by my own 
hand than grievously mutilated by the hand of others. 

And so, to carry out this plan, I began to read the book again; 
and touched at the very outset by the title, I was saddened not a 
little, and far more so as I went on, by the thought that most 
I 



DEDICATORY LETTER 

of the personages introduced in the discussion were already 
dead; for besides those mentioned in the proem of the last Book, 
messer Alfonso Ariosto' (to whom the work is dedicated) is also 
dead, a gracious youth, considerate, of the highest breeding, and 
apt in everything proper to a man who lives at court. Likewise 
Duke Giuliano de' Medici,' whose kindness and noble courtesy 
deserved to be enjoyed longer by the world, Messer Bernardo,'" 
Cardinal of Santa Maria in Portico, who for his keen and playful 
readiness of wit was most delightful to all that knew him, he, too, 
is dead. Dead also is my lord Ottaviano Fregoso," a man very 
rare in our times: magnanimous, devout, full of kindness, talent, 
good sense, and courtesy, a true lover of honour and merit, and so 
worthy of praise that his very enemies were ever forced to praise 
him; and the misadventures that he bore so bravely were enough 
to prove that fortune is still, as always, adverse to merit. And 
of those mentioned in my book many more besides are dead, to 
ir , whom nature seemed to promise very long life. 
"^v / But what should not be told without tears is that my lady 
J^ Duchess," too, is dead. And if my heart mourns the loss of so 
•vs' many friends and patrons, who have left me in this life as in a 
' ^ solitude full of sorrows, it is meet that I grieve more bitterly for 
the death of my lady Duchess than of all the others ; for she was 
/y^ more precious than they, and I more bound to her than to all the 
Ki others. Nottodelay, then, the tribute that I owe the memory of so 
^ excellent a Lady and of the others who are no more, and moved 
also by the danger to my book, I have had it printed and pub- 
lished in such state as the shortness of time permitted. 

And since you had no knowledge in their lifetime either of my 
lady Duchess or of the others who are dead (except Duke Giu- 
liano and the Cardinal of Santa Maria in Portico), in order to 
give you that knowledge after their death as far as I can, I send 
you this book as a picture of the Court of Urbino, not by the hand 
of RaphaeP" or Michelangelo,*" but of a humble painter, who 
knows only how to trace the chief lines, and cannot adorn truth 
with bright colouring, or by perspective art make that which is 
not seem to be. And although I tried to show forth in their dis- 
course the qualities and character of my personages, I own I failed 
to express or even to suggest the excellences of my lady Duchess, 

a 



DEDICATORY LETTER 

not only because my style is inadequate to describe them, but be- 
cause my intelligence fails even to conceive of them;" and if I be 
censured for this or any other matter worthy of censure (for I 
well know that my book contains many such), I shall not gain- 
say the truth. 

2.— But as men sometimes so delight in finding fault that they 
reprehend even that which does not merit reprehension, to such 
as blame me because I did not imitate Boccaccio '* or conform to 
the usages of present Tuscan speech, I shall not refrain from say- 
ing that while, for his time, Boccaccio had a charming faculty and 
often wrote with care and diligence, yet he wrote far better when 
he followed only the guidance of his natural wit and instinct, 
without further thought or care to polish his writings, than when 
he strove industriously and laboriously to be more refined and 
correct. For this reason even his followers declare that he 
greatly erred in judgment concerning his own works, holding 
cheap what did him honour" and prizing what was worthless. 
Therefore, if I had imitated that manner of writing which in Boc- 
caccio is censured by those who elsewise praise him, I should 
not have been able to escape those same aspersions that were 
cast on him in this regard; and I should have more deserved 
them, because he committed his faults thinking he was doing 
well, while I should have known I was doing ill. Again, if I had 
imitated the style now admired by many but less esteemed by 
him, it seemed to me that by such imitation I should show myself 
at variance with him whom I was imitating, a thing I deemed 
unseemly. And again, if this consideration had not moved me, I 
was not able to imitate him in my subject-matter, for he never 
wrote anything at all in the manner of these books of the Cour- 
tier; and I thought I ought not to imitate him in language, be- 
cause the power and true law of good speech consist rather in 
usage than in aught else, and it is always a bad habit to employ 
words not in use. Therefore it was not meet for me to borrow 
many of Boccaccio's words that were used in his day, but are not 
now used even by the Tuscans themselves. 

Nor was I willing to limit myself to the Tuscan usage of to- 
day, because intercourse between different nations has always 
had the effect to transport, as it were like merchandise, new 

3 



DEDICATORY LETTER 

forms of speech from one to the other; and these endure or fail 
according as custom accepts or rejects them. Besides being at- 
tested by the ancients, this is clearly seen in Boccaccio, who used 
so many French, Spanish, and Provengal words (some of them 
perhaps not very intelligible to modern Tuscans) that if they 
were all omitted his work would be far shorter. 

And since, in my opinion, we ought not to despise the idiom of 
the other noble cities of Italy, whither men resort who are wise, 
witty, and eloquent, wont to discourse on weighty matters of 
statecraft, letters, war, and commerce, I think that, of the words 
used in the speech of these places, I could fitly use in writing 
such as are graceful in themselves, elegant to pronounce, and 
commonly deemed good and expressive, although they might not 
be Tuscan or even of Italian origin. Moreover, in Tuscany, many 
words are used which are plainly corruptions of the Latin, but 
which in Lombardy and other parts of Italy have remained pure 
and unchanged, and are so generally employed by everyone that 
they are accepted by the gentle and easily understood by the vul- 
gar. Hence I think I did not err if in writing I used some of 
these words, or preferred what is whole and true speech of my 
own country rather than what is corrupt and mutilated from 
abroad. 

Neither do I regard as sound the maxim laid down by many, 
that our common speech is the more beautiful the less it is like 
Latin; nor do I understand why one fashion of speech should be 
accorded so much greater authority than another, that, if the 
Tuscan tongue can ennoble debased and mutilated Latin words 
and lend them such grace that, mutilated as they are, they may 
be used by anyone without reproach (which is not denied), the 
Lombard or any other tongue may not support these same Latin 
words, pure, whole, precise, and quite unchanged, so that they be 
tolerable. And truly, just as to undertake, in spite of usage, to 
coin new words or to preserve old ones may be called bold pre- 
sumption, so also, besides being difficult, it seems almost im- 
pious to undertake, against the force of that same usage, to sup- 
press and bury alive, as it were, words that have already endured 
for many centuries, protected by the shield of custom against the 
envy of time, and have maintained their dignity and splendour 

4 



DEDICATORY LETTER 

through the changes in language, in buildings, in habits and in 
customs, wrought by the wars and disasters of Italy. 

Hence if in writing I have chosen not to use those words of 
Boccaccio that are no longer used in Tuscany, nor to conform to 
the rule of those who deem it not permissible to use any words 
that the Tuscans of to-day do not use, I seem to myself excusable. 
And I think that both in the matter and in the language of my 
book (so far as one language can aid another), I have followed 
authors as worthy of praise as is Boccaccio, Nor do I believe 
that it ought to be counted against me as a fault that I have 
elected to make myself known rather as a Lombard speaking 
Lombard, than as a non-Tuscan speaking Tuscan too precisely, 
in order that I might not resemble Theophrastus, who was 
detected as non-Athenian by a simple old woman, because he 
spoke the Athenian dialect with excess of care,'" 

But as this subject is sufficiently treated of in my first Book," I 
shall say no more, except that, to prevent all possible discussion, 
I grant my critics that I do not know this Tuscan dialect of theirs, 
which is so difficult and recondite. And I declare that I have 
written in my own dialect, just as I speak and for those who 
speak as I do; and in this I think I have wronged no man, 
because it seems to me that no one is forbidden to write and 
speak in his own language; nor is anyone bound to read or listen 
to what does not please him. Therefore if these folk do not care 
to read my Courtier, I shall not hold myself in the least wronged 
by them. 

3.— Others say that since it is so very hard and well nigh im- 
possible to find a man as perfect as I wish the Courtier to be, 
it was superfluous to write of him, because it is folly to teach 
what cannot be learned. To these I make answer that I am 
content to have erred in company with Plato, Xenophon and 
Marcus Tullius, leaving on one side all discussion about the 
Intelligible World and Ideals; among which, just as are in- 
cluded (according to those authors) the ideal of the perfect 
State, of the perfect King and of the perfect Orator," so also is 
the ideal of the perfect Courtier. And if in my style I have 
failed to approach the image of this ideal, it will be so much the 
easier for courtiers to approach in deeds the aim and goal that 

5 



DEDICATORY LETTER 

I have set them by my writing; and even if they fail to attain 
the perfection, such as it is, that I have tried to express, he that 
approaches nearest to it will be the most perfect; just as when 
many archers shoot at a target and none hit the very mark, 
surely he that comes nearest to it is better than the rest. 

Still others say that I thought to paint my own portrait, as if 
I were convinced that I possessed all the qualities that I attrib- 
ute to the Courtier." To these I shall not indeed deny having 
essayed everything that I should wish the Courtier to know; 
and I think that a man, however learned, who did not know 
something of the matters treated of in the book, could not well 
have written of them; but I am not so lacking in self-discern- 
ment as to fancy that I know everything I have the wit to 
desire. 

My defence then against these and perhaps many other accu- 
sations, I leave for the present to the verdict of public opinion; 
for while the many may not perfectly understand, yet oftener 
than not they scent by natural instinct the savour of good and 
bad, and without being able to explain why, they relish one 
thing and like it, and reject another and hate it. Therefore if 
my book wins general favour, I shall think it must be good and 
ought to live;"* but if it fails to please, I shall think it must be 
bad and soon to be forgot. And if my censors be not satisfied 
with the common verdict of opinion, let them rest content with 
that of time, which in the end reveals the hidden defects of 
everything, and being father of truth and judge without passion, 
ever passes on men's writings just sentence of life or death. 

Baldesar Castiglione. 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 
BY COUNT BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE 

TO MESSER ALFONSO ARIOSTO 

I.— Within myself I have long doubted, dearest messer Al- 
fonso, which of two things were the harder for me: to deny you 
what you have often begged of me so urgently, or to do it. For 
while it seemed to me very hard to deny anything (and espe- 
cially a thing in the highest degree laudable) to one whom I 
love most dearly and by whom I feel myself to be most dearly 
loved, yet to set about an enterprise that I was not sure of being 
able to finish, seemed to me ill befitting a man who esteems just 
censure as it ought to be esteemed. At last, after much thought, 
I am resolved to try in this matter how much aid my assiduity 
may gain from that affection and intense desire to please, which 
in other things are so wont to stimulate the industry of man. 

You ask me then to write w^hat is to my thinking the form of 
Courtiership" most befitting a gentleman who lives at the court 
of princes, by which he may have the ability and knowledge 
perfectly to serve them in every reasonable thing, winning 
from them favour, and praise from other men; in short, what 
manner of man he ought to be who may deserve to be called a 
perfect Courtier w^ithout flaw. Wherefore, considering your 
request, I say that had it not seemed to me more blameworthy 
to be reputed somewhat unamiable by you than too conceited by 
everyone else, I should have avoided this task, for fear of being 
held over bold by all who know how hard a thing it is, from 
among such a variety of customs as are in use at the courts of 
Christendom, to choose the perfect form and as it were the 
flower of Courtiership. For custom often makes the same 
thing pleasing and displeasing to us; whence it sometimes fol- 
lows that customs, habits, ceremonies and fashions that once 
were prized, become vulgar, and contrariwise the vulgar become 
prized. Thus it is clearly seen that use rather than reason has 

7 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

power to introduce new things among us, and to do away with 
the old; and he will often err who seeks to determine which are 
perfect. Therefore being conscious of this and many other 
difficulties in the subject set before me to write of, I am con- 
strained to offer some apology, and to testify that this errour (if 
errour it may indeed be called) is common to us both, to the end 
that if I be blamed for it, the blame may be shared by you also; 
for your offence in setting me a task beyond my powers should 
not be deemed less than mine in having accepted it. 

So now let us make a beginning of our subject, and if possible 
let us form such a Courtier that any prince worthy to be served 
by him, although of but small estate,** might still be called a 
very great lord. 

In these books we shall follow no fixed order or rule of dis- 
tinct precepts, such as are usually employed in teaching any- 
thing whatever; but after the fashion of many ancient writers, 
we shall revive a pleasant memory and rehearse certain dis- 
cussions that were held between men singularly competent in 
such matters; and although I had no part in them personally, 
being in England at the time they took place, "^ yet having re- 
ceived them soon after my return, from one who faithfully 
reported them to me, I will try to recall them as accurately as 
my memory will permit, so that you may know what was thought 
and believed on this subject by men who are worthy of highest 
praise, and to whose judgment implicit faith may be given in all 
things. Nor will it be amiss to tell the cause of these discus- 
sions, so that we may reach in orderly manner the end to which 
our discourse tends. 

2 — On the slopes of the Apennines towards the Adriatic sea, 
almost in the centre of Italy, there lies (as everyone knows) the 
little city of Urbino. Although amid mountains, and less pleas- 
ing ones than perhaps some others that we see in many places, 
it has yet enjoyed such favour of heaven that the country round 
about is very fertile and rich in crops; so that besides the whole- 
someness of the air, there is great abundance of everything 
needful for human life. But among the greatest blessings that 
can be attributed to it, this I believe to be the chief, that for a 
long time it has ever been ruled by the best of lords;" although 

8 



OHTJanaTMOM la oajAaoaxuo 




Prom AIinari'8 photograph (no. 7351) of the portrait, in the Colonna Gallery at Rome, 
variously attributed to Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi (1440?- 1494), and (by Morelli) 
to Melozzo degli Ambrosi da Forli (1438- 1494). Schmarzow's iconographical identifi- 
cation of this portrait (formerly supposed to represent Raphael as a boy) is confirmed 
by its close resemblance to the young duke's features as shown on coins issued in the 
early years of his reign. 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

in the calamities of the universal wars of Italy, it was for a 
season deprived of them.** But without seeking further, we can 
give good proof of this by the glorious memory of Duke Fed- 
erico,'" who in his day was the light of Italy; nor is there lack 
of credible and abundant witnesses, who are still living, to his 
prudence, humanity, justice, liberality, unconquered courage, — 
and to his military discipline, which is conspicuously attested by 
his numerous victories, his capture of impregnable places, the 
sudden swiftness of his expeditions, the frequency with which he 
put to flight large and formidable armies by means of a very 
small force, and by his loss of no single battle whatever;" so 
that we may not unreasonably compare him to many famous 
men of old. 

Among his other praiseworthy deeds, he built on the rugged 
site of Urbino a palace regarded by many as the most beautiful 
to be found in all Italy; and he so w e ll furnished i t,with everjt. 
thing suitable that it seem&dnot-a-palaae.but_a_-city.iii.lh£ fornix, 
of a palace; and not merely with what is ordinarily used, — such 
as silver vases, hangings of richest cloth-of-gold and silk, and 

other similar things, — but for ornament he added countless an- 

tiq ue statue s in marble and bronze, pictures most choice, and 
musical instruments of every sort, nor would he admit anything 
there that was not ver y rare a nd excellent.. Then at very great 
cost he collected a goodly number of most excellent and rare 
books in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, all of which he adorned 
with gold and with silver, esteeming this to be the chiefest excel- 
lence of his great palace." ; > '. ~^ ~ ' i t v:h5 , I ._■. .vv 

3-— Following then the course of nature, and already sixty-five 
years old,''' he died gloriously, as he had lived; and he left as his 
successor a motherless little boy of ten years, his only son 
Guidobaldo. Heir to the State, he seemed to be heir also to all 
his father's virtues, and soon his noble nature gave such promise 
as seemed not permissible to hope for from mortal man; so that 
men esteemed none among the notable deeds of Duke Federico 
to be greater than to have begotten such a son. But envious of 
so much virtue, fortune thwarted this glorious beginning with 
all her power; so that before Duke Guido reached the age of 
twenty years, he fell ill of the gout,"* which grew upon him with 

9 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

grievous pain, and in a short space of time so crippled all his 
members that he could neither stand upon his feet nor move; 
and thus one of the fairest and most promising forms in the 
world was distorted and spoiled in tender youth. 

And not content even with this, fortune was so contrary to 
him in all his purposes, that he could seldom carry into effect 
Anything that he desired; and although he was very wise of 
/counsel and unconquered in spirit, it seemed that what he under- 
itook, both in war and in everything else whether small or great, 
I always ended ill for him. And proof of this is found in his many 
and diverse calamities, which he ever bore with such strength 
of mind, that his spirit was never vanquished by fortune; nay, 
scorning her assaults with unbroken courage, he lived in illness 
as if in health and in adversity as if fortunate, with perfect dig- 
nity and universal esteem; so that although he was thus infirm 
of body, he fought with most honourable rank in the service of 
their Serene Highnesses the Kings of Naples, Alfonso'' and 
Ferdinand the Younger ;"" later with Pope Alexander VI," and 
with the Venetian and Florentine signories. 

Upon the accession of Julius II " to the pontificate, he was made 
Captain of the Church; at which time, following his accustomed 
habit, above all else he took care to fill his household withjyerx 
noble and valiant gentlemen, with whom he lived most familiarly, 
delighting in their intercourse: wherein the pleasure he gave to 
others was not less than that he received from others, he being 
well versed in both the [learned] '^^' languages, and uniting affa- 
bility and pleasantness*' to a knowledge of things without num- 
ber. And besides this, the greatness of his spirit so set him on, 
that although he could not practise in person the exercises of 
chivalry, as he once had done, yet he took the utmost pleasure 
in witnessing them in others; and by his words, now correcting 
now praising every man according to desert, he clearly showed 
his judgment in those matters; wherefore, in jousts and tourna- 
ments, in riding, in the handling of every sort of weapon, as well 
as in pastimes, games, music, — in short, in all the exercises 
proper to noble cavaliers, — everyone strove so to show himself, 
as to merit being deemed worthy of such noble fellowship. 

4 — Thus all the hours of the day were assigned to honourable 

10 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER ,^^,^^ 

and pleasant exercises as well for the body as for the mind; but 
since my lord Duke was always wont by reason of his infirmity to 
retire to sleep very early after supper, everyone usually betook 
himself at that hour to the presence of my lady Duchess, Elisabetta 
Gonzaga; where also was ever to be found my lady Emilia Pia," 
who was endowed with such lively wit and judgment that, as 
you know, it seemed as if she were the Mistress of us all, and as 
if everyone gained wisdom and worth from her. Here then, 
gentle discussions and innocent pleasantries were heard, and on 
the face of everyone a jocund gaiety was seen depicted, so that 
the house could truly be called the very abode of mirth: nor 
ever elsewhere, I think, was so relished, as once was here, how 
great sweetness may flow from dear and cherished companion- 
ship; for not to speak of the honour it was to each of us to serve 

such a lord as he of whom I have just spoken, there was born in 

the hearts of all a supreme contentment every time we came into 
tlfe^ presence of my lady Duchess; and it seemed as if this were 
a chain that held us all linked in love, so that never was concord 
of will or cordial love between brothers greater than that which 
here was between us all. Vxc^v -i- 

The same was it among the ladies, w^ith whom there was 
intercourse most free and honourable; for everyone was per- ,, ^^ 
mitted to talk, sit, jest and laugh with whom he pleased; but . }^'~*'**'C 
such was the reverence paid to the wish of my lady Duchess, i^'s.itti*. 
That this same liberty was a very great check;** nor was there 
anyone who did not esteem it the utmost pleasure he could 
have in the world, to please her, and the utmost pain to 
displease her. And thus, most decorous manners were here 
joined with greatest liberty, and games and laughter in her 
presence were seasoned not only with witty jests, but w^ith *-*^'''^"^ 
gracious and sober dignity; for that modesty and loftiness 
which governed all the acts, words and gestures of my lady 
Duchess, bantering and laughing, were such that she would have 
been known for a lady of noblest rank by anyone who saw her 
even but once. And impressing herself thus upon those about 
her, she seemed to attune us all to her own quality and tone; 
accordingly every man strove to follow this pattern, taking as it 
were a rule of beautiful behaviour from the presence of so great 

IX 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

and virtuous a lady; whose highest qualities I do not now pur- 
pose to recount, they not being my theme and being well known 
to all the world, and far more because I could not express them 
with either tongue or pen; and those that perhaps might have 
been somewhat hid, fortune, as if wondering at such rare virtue, 
chose to reveal through many adversities and stings of calam- 
ity, so as to give proof that in the tender breast of woman, in 
company with singular beauty, there may abide prudence and 
strength of soul, and all those virtues that even among stern 
men are very rare." 

5-— But leaving this aside, I say that the custom of all the gSSc^ 
tlem en of t he house was to betake themselves straightway a fter 
su pper to m y lady Duchess; where, among the other pleasant 
pastimes and music and dancing that continually were practised, 
sometimes neat questions were proposed, sometimes ingenious 
games were devised at the choice of one or another, in which 
under various disguises the company disclosed their thoughts 
figuratively to whom they liked best. Sometimes other discus- 
sions arose about different matters, or biting retorts passed 
lightly back and forth. Often " devices " (imprese), as we now 
call them, were displayed;'" in discussing which there was won- 
derful diversion, the house being (as I have said) full of very 
noble talents; among whom (as you know) the most famous 
were my lord Ottaviano Fregoso, his brother messer Federico,*' 
jjthe Magnifico Giuliano de' Medici, messer Pietro Bembo," mes- 
; ser Cesare Gonzaga," Count Ludovico da Canossa," my lord 
Caspar Pallavicino," my lord Ludovico Pio,*' my lord Morello 
da Ortona," Pietro da Napoli, messer Roberto da Bari,'' and 
countless other very noble jcajiialiers^ Moreover there were 
many, who, although usually they did not dwell there constantly, 
yet spent most of the time there: like messer Bernardo Bibbiena, 
the Unico Aretino," Giancristoforo Romano," Pietro Monte," 
Terpandro,'* messer Niccold Frisio;" so that there always 
flocked thither poets, musicians and all sorts of agreeable" men, 
and in every walk the most excellent that were to be found in Italy. 
6 — Now Pope Julius II, having by his presence and the aid 
of the French brought Bologna under subjection to the apostolic 
see in the year 1506, and being on his way back to Rome, passed 

12 



ELISABETTA GONZAGA 

DUCHESS OF URBINO 

1471-1526 

Reduced from Braun's photograph (no. 41.131) of the portrait in the UfBzi Gallery at Flor- 
ence, variously ascribed to Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), to Lorenzo Costa (1460 -1535), 
and to Francesco Bonsignori (1455 - 1519). 



» 



I 




THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

through Urbino; where he was received with all possible honour 
and with as magnificent and splendid state as could have been 
prepared in any other noble city of Italy: so that besides the 
pope, all the lord cardinals and other courtiers were most highly 
gratified. And some there were, attracted by the charm of this 
society, who tarried at Urbino many days after the departure of 
the pope and his court; during which time not only were the 
ordinary pastimes and diversions continued in the usual manner, 
but every man strove to contribute something new, and especially 
jrvthe^ames, to whic h j.lmjost every evening was devoted. And 
the order of them was such that immediately after reaching 
the presence of my lady Duchess, everyone sat down in a circle 
as he pleased or as chance decided; and in sitting they were 
arranged alternately, a man and a woman, as long as there 
were women, for nearly always the number of men was by far 
the greater; then they were governed as seemed best to my 
lady Duchess, who for the most part left this charge to my lady 
Emilia. 

So, the day after the pope's departure,'^ the company being 
assembled at the wonted hour and place, after much pleasant 
talk, my lady Duchess desired my lady Emilia to begin the 
games; and she, after having for a time refused the task, spoke 
thus : 

" My Lady, since it pleases you that I shall be the one to begin 
the games this evening, not being able in reason to fail to obey 
you, I will propose a game in which I think I ought to have 
little blame and less labour; and this shall be for everyone to 
propose after his liking a game that has never been given; and 
then we will choose the one that seems best worthy to be played 
in this company," 

And so saying, she turned to my lord Caspar Pallavicino, re- 
quiring him to tell his choice; and he at once replied: 

" It is for you, my Lady, first to tell your own." 

"But I have already told it," said my lady Emilia; "now do 
you, my lady Duchess, bid him be obedient."'" 

Then my lady Duchess said, smiling: 

" To the end that everyone may be bound to obey you, I make 
you my deputy and give you all my authority." 

13 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

7-— "It is a remarkable thing," replied my lord Caspar, "that 
women should always be allowed this exemption from toil, 
and it certainly would not be unreasonable to wish in some 
way to learn the reason why; but not to be the first to disobey, 
I will leave this for another time, and will tell what is required 
of me;" and he began: " It seems to me that in love, as in 
everything else, our minds judge diversely; and thus it often 
happens that what is very delightful to one man, is very hate- 
ful to another; but none the less we all are ever alike in this, 
that every man holds his beloved very dear; so that the over 
fondness of lovers often cheats their judgment to such a degree, 
that they esteem the person whom they love to be the only one 
in the world adorned with every excellent virtue and wholly 
without defect; but since human nature does not admit such 
complete perfection, and since there is no one to be found who 
does not lack something, it cannot be said that such men do not 
cheat themselves, and that the lover does not become blind con- 
cerning the beloved. I would therefore that this evening our 
game might be that each of us should tell what virtue above 
others he would have the person whom he loves adorned with; 
and then, as all must have some blemish, what fault he would 
have in her; in order that we may see who can find the most 
praiseworthy and useful virtues, and the most excusable faults 
and least harmful to lover and beloved."! 

My lord Gaspar having spoken thus, my lady Emilia made 
sign to madonna Costanza Fregosa" to follow after, because 
she sat next in order, and she was preparing to speak; but my 
lady Duchess said quickly: 

" Since my lady Emilia will not make the effort to invent a 
game, it were only fair that the other ladies share this ease and 
that they too be exempt from such exertion for this evening, 
especially as there are here so many men that there is no dan- 
ger of lack of games." 

"So be it," replied my lady Emilia; and imposing silence on 
madonna Costanza, she turned to messer Cesare Gonzaga, who 
sat next, and bade him speak; and he began thus: 

8 — " Whoso will carefully consider all our actions, will ever 
find various defects in them; the reason whereof is that nature, 

14 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

variable in this as in other things, has given to one man the 
light of reason in one thing, to another man in another thing; 
and so it happens that, the one knowing what the other does not 
know and being ignorant of what the other understands, each 
readily perceives his neighbour's fault and not his own, and we 
all seem to ourselves very wise and perhaps most of all in that 
wherein we most are foolish. Thus we have seen it happen in 
this house that many, at first accounted very wise, were in course 
of time recognized as very foolish, which came about from nothing 
else but our own watchfulness. For, as they say that in Apulia 
musical instruments are used for those bitten by the tarantula," 
and various tunes are tried until the humour that causes the 
malady (through a certain affinity it has for some one of those 
tunes) is suddenly stirred by the sound, and so excites the sick 
man that he is restored to health by virtue of that excitement: so 
when we have perceived a hidden touch of folly, we have stimu- 
lated it so artfully and with such various persuasions and diverse 
means, that at length we have learned whither it tended; then, 
the humour once recognized, so well have we excited it that it has 
always reached the perfection of open folly. Thus one man has 
waxed foolish over poetry, another over music, another over love, 
another over dancing, another over inventing mimes,** another 
over riding, another over fencing, — each according to the native 
quality of his metal; whence, as you know, great amusement has 
bee n derived. I hold it then as certain that there is some grain' 
of folly in each of us, which being quickened can multiply almost 
infinitely. * 

" Therefore I would that this evening our game might be a 
discussion upon this subject, and that each one tell with what 
kind of folly, and about what thing, he thinks I should make a 
fool of myself if I had to make a fool of myself openly, judging 
of this outburst by the sparks of folly that are daily seen to issue 
from me. Let the same be told of all the rest, keeping to the 
order of our games, and let each one try to found his opinion 
upon some actual sign and argument. And thus we shall each 
derive from our game the advantage of learning our defects, and 
so shall be better able to guard against them; and if the vein of 
folly that is discovered proves so rich that it seems incurable, 

15 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

we will assist it, and according to fra Mariano's"" teaching, we 
shall have saved a soul, which will be no small gain." 

There was much laughter at this game, nor were there any 
who could keep from talking; one said, "I should make a fool 
of myself over thinking;" another, "Over looking;" another 
said, "I have already made a fool of myself over loving;" and 
the like. 

9-— Then fra Serafino" said, laughing after his manner: 

"That would take too long; but if you want a fine game, let 
everyone give his opinion why it is that nearly all women hold 
rats in hatred, and are fond of snakes; and you will see that no 
one will guess the reason except myself, who learned this secret 
in a strange way." And he began to tell his stories; but my 
lady Emilia bade him be silent, and passing over the lady who 
sat next, made sign to the Unico Aretino whose turn it was; and 
he, without waiting for further command, said: 

" I would I were a judge with power to search the heart of 
evil-doers by every sort of torture; and this that I might fathom 
the deceits of an ingrate with angel eyes and serpent heart, who 
never lets her tongue reveal her soul, and with deceitful pity 
feigned has no thought but of dissecting hearts. Nor is there in 
sandy Libya to be found a serpent so venomous and eager for 
human blood as is this false one; who not only in the sweetness 
of her voice and honeyed words, but in her eyes, her smiles, her 
aspect and in all her ways, is a very siren. 

" But since I am not suffered, as I would I were, to use chains, 
rope and fire to learn a certain truth, I fain would learn it by a 
game, — which is this: let each one tell what he believes to be 
the meaning of that letter S which my lady Duchess wears upon 
her brow; for, although this too is surely an artful veil to aid 
deceit, perchance there will be given it some interpretation 
unthought of by her perhaps, and it will be found that fortune, 
compassionate spectatress of men's martyrdoms, has led her 
against her will to disclose by this small token her secret wish 
to slay and bury alive in calamity everyone who beholds her or 
serves her." 

My lady Duchess laughed, and the Unico, seeing that she 
wished to defend herself against this imputation, said: 

i6 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Nay, my Lady, do not speak, for it is not now your turn to 
speak." 

My lady Emilia then turned and said: 

" Sir Unico, there is no one of us here who does not yield to 
you in everything, but above all in knowledge of my lady 
Duchess's mind; and since you know it better than the others 
(thanks to your divine genius), you love it better than the others, 
who like those weak-sighted birds that fix not their eyes upon 
the sun's orb, cannot so justly know how perfect it is; wherefore 
every effort to clear this doubt would be vain, save your own 
judgment. To you alone then be left this task, as to him who 
alone can perform it." 

The Unico remained silent for a while, then being urged to 
speak, at last recited a sonnet upon the aforesaid subject, declar- 
ing what that letter S meant; which was by many believed to 
be done impromptu, but as it was more ingenious and finished 
than seemed to accord with the shortness of the time, it was 
thought rather to have been prepared."' 

10.— Then having bestowed a merry plaudit in praise of the 
sonnet, and talked of it awhile, my lord Ottaviano Fregoso, 
whose turn it was, smilingly began as follows : 

" My Lords, if I were to affirm that I had never felt the pas- 
sion of love, I am sure that my lady Duchess and my lady 
Emilia would feign to believe it even though they believed it 
not, and would say that it was because I mistrusted ever being 
able to prevail upon any woman to love me; whereof indeed I 
have not made trial hitherto with such persistence as reasonably 
to despair of being able sometime to succeed. But yet I have 
not refrained because I rate myself so high, or women so low, 
that I do not deem many of them worthy to be loved and served 
by me ; but made timourous rather by the continual laments of 
some lovers, who — pallid, gloomy and taciturn — seem always to 
wear their unhappiness depicted in their eyes; and if they speak, 
they accompany every word with triple sighs, and discourse of 
nothing but tears, torments, despairings and longings for death; 
so that if an amourous spark has sometimes kindled in my heart, I 
have at once striven with all my might to quench it, not from any 
hate I bear to women as these ladies think, but for my own good. 

17 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" I have also known some others quite different from these do- 
lourous souls, — lovers who not only give thanks and praise for 
the kind looks, tender words and gentle bearing of their mis- 
tresses, but flavour all evils with sweetness, so that they call 
their ladies' warrings, anger and disdain, most sweet Where- 
fore such as these seem to me far more than happy. For if they 
find such sweetness in lovers' quarrels, which those others deem 
far more bitter than death, I think that in loving endearments 
they must enjoy that supreme beatitude which we vainly seek in 
this world. So I would that this evening our game might be, 
that each man tell, if she whom he loves must needs be angry 
with him, by what cause he would have her anger roused. Be- 
cause if there be any here who have enjoyed this sweet anger, I 
am sure that out of courtesy they will choose one of those 
causes that make it so sweet; and perhaps I shall take courage 
to advance a little farther in love, hoping that I too may find this 
sweetness where some find bitterness; and then these ladies will 
be no longer able to cast shame upon me because I do not love." 

II.— This game found much favour and everyone made ready 
to speak upon the subject, but as my lady Emilia made no further 
mention of it, messer Pietro Bembo, who sat next in order, spoke 
thus: 

" My Lords, no small uncertainty has been awakened in my 
mind by the game proposed by my lord Ottaviano in his dis- 
course about love's anger: the which, however varied it be, has 
in my case always been most bitter, nor do I believe that any 
seasoning could be learned from me that would avail to sweeten 
it; but perhaps it is more or less bitter according to the cause 
from which it springs.*" For I remember once to have seen the 
lady whom I served wrought up against me, either by some idle 
suspicion that she had herself conceived as to my loyalty, or by 
some other false notion awakened in her by what others had said to 
my injury; insomuch that I believed no pain could equal mine, and 
it seemed to me that the greatest suffering I felt was to endure that 
which I had not deserved, and to have this affliction come upon me 
not from my fault but from her lack of love. At other times I saw 
her angered by some errour of mine, and knew her ire to proceed 
from my fault; and then I deemed that my former woe was 

i8 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

very light compared with that which now I felt; and it seemed 
to me that to have displeased, and through my own guilt, the 
person whom alone I desired and so zealously strove to please, 
was the greatest torment and above all others. I would there- 
fore that our game might be that each man tell, if she whom he 
loves must needs be angry with him, from which of the two he 
would have her anger spring, from her or from himself; so that 
we may know which is the greater suffering, to give displeasure 
to her who is loved, or to receive it from her who is loved." 

12 Everyone waited for my lady Emilia to reply; but she, 

saying nothing more to Bembo, turned and made sign to messer 
Federico Fregoso that he should tell his game; and he at once 
began as follows: 

" My Lady, I would it were permitted me, as it sometimes is, 
to assent to another's proposal; since for my part I would 
readily approve any of the games proposed by these gentlemen, 
for I really think that all of them would be amusing. But not 
to break our rule, I say that anyone who wished to praise our 
court, — laying aside the merit of our lady Duchess, which with 
her divine virtue would suffice to lift from earth to heaven the 
meanest souls that are in the world, — might well say without 
suspicion of flattery, tha t in all Ita ly it would perhaps be hard to. 
^nd so many cavaliers so singularly admirable and so excellent ^ 
in^divers other matters besides the chief concerns of chivalry, as 
are now to be found here: wherefore if anywhere there be 
men who deserve to be called good Courtiers and who are able 
to judge of what pertains to the perfection of Courtiership, it is 
reasonable to believe that they are here. So, to repress the 
many fools who by impudence and folly think to win the name 
of good Courtier, I would that this evening's game might be, 
that we select some one of the company and gi ve him the task, 
of portraying a perfect Courtier, explaining all the conditions 
and special qualities requisite in one who deserves this title; 
and as to those things that shall not appear sound, let everyone 
be allowed to contradict, as in the schools of the philosophers it ■ 
is allowed to contradict anyone who proposes a thesis." 

Messer Federico was continuing his discourse still further, 
when my lady Emilia interrupted him and said: 

19 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" This, if it pleases my lady Duchess, shall for the present be 
our game." 

My lady Duchess answered : 

" It does please me." 

Then nearly all those present began to say, both to my lady 
Duchess and among themselves, that this was the finest game 
that could possibly be; and without waiting for each other's 
answer, they entreated my lady Emilia to decide who should 
begin. She turned to my lady Duchess and said: 

" Command, my Lady, him who it best pleases you should 
have this task; for I do not wish, by selecting one rather than an- 
other, to seem to decide whom I think more competent in this 
matter than the rest, and so do wrong to anyone." 

My lady Duchess replied: 

" Nay, make this choice yourself, and take heed lest by not 
obeying you give an example to the others, so that they too 
prove disobedient in their turn." 

I3-— At this my lady Emilia laughed and said to Count Ludo- 
vico da Canossa: 

"Then not to lose more time, you. Count, shall be the one 
to take this enterprise after the manner that messer Federico 
has described; not indeed because we account you so good a 
Courtier that you know what befits one, but because, if you say 
everything wrong as we hope you will, the game will be more 
lively, for everyone will then have something to answer you; 
while if someone else had this task who knew more than you, it 
would be impossible to contradict him in anything, because he 
would tell the truth, and so the game would be tedious." 

The Count answered quickly : 

" W^hoever told the truth, my Lady, would run no risk of lack- 
ing contradiction, so long as you were present;" and after some 
laughter at this retort, he continued: "But truly I would fain 
escape this burden, it seeming to me too heavy, and I being con- 
scious that what you said in jest is very true; that is, that I do 
not know what befits a good Courtier: and I do not seek to 
prove this with further argument, because, as I do not practise 
the rules of Courtiership, one may judge that I do not know 
them; and I think my blame may be the less, for sure it is worse 

20 



COUNT LUDOVICO DA CANOSSA 

1476-1532 

Reduced from a photograph, specially made through the courtesy of the Bishop of 
Bayeux, of an anonymous portrait in his possession. The sadly injured condition 
of the original rendered it necessary to retouch the negative, in which process recourse 
was had to a small photograph, kindly furnished by the Marquess Ottaviodi Canossa, 
of his copy of the Bayeux portrait. 



AsaoHAD ACT onivoatT.i mvc 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

not to wish to do well than not to know how. Yet, since it so 
happens that you are pleased to have me bear this burden, I 
neither can nor will refuse it, in order not to contravene our rule 
and your judgment, which I rate far higher than my own." 

Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" As the early evening is now spent and many other kinds 
of entertainment are ready, perhaps it will be well to put off this 
discussion until to-morrow and give the Count time to think of 
what he has to say; for it is difficult indeed to speak unprepared 
on such a subject." 

The Count replied: 

" I do not wish to be like the fellow who, when stripped to his 
shirt, vaulted less well than he had done in his doublet; hence it 
seems to me good fortune that the hour is late, for I shall be 
obliged by the shortness of the time to say but little, and my. not 
having taken thought will excuse me, so that I shall be allowed 
to say without blame whatever first comes to my lips. 

" Therefore, not to carry this burden of duty longer on my 
shoulders, I say that in everything it is so hard to know the true 
perfection as to be well nigh impossible; and this because of the 
variety of opinions. Thus there are many that will like a man 
who speaks much, and will call him pleasing; some will prefer 
modesty; some others, an active and restless man; still others, 
one who shows calmness and deliberation in everything; and so 
every man praises or decries according to his mind, always 
clothing vice with the name of its kindred virtue, or virtue with 
the name of its kindred vice; for example, calling an impudent 
man frank, a modest man dull, an ignorant man good, a knave 
discreet; and so in all things else. YeOJbelieye^Jhat there_ejJC-_ 
ists in everything its own perfection;, although concealed ; and that 
this can be determined through rational discussion by any having, 
knowledge of the thing in hand. And since, as I have said, the 
truth often lies concealed, and I do not profess to have this know- 
ledge, I can only praise the kind of Courtier that I most esteem, 
and approve him who seems to me nearest right, according to my 
poor judgment; the which you will follow if you find it good, or 
you will hold to your own if it differs from mine. Nor shall I at 
all insist that mine is better than yours; not only because you 

21 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

may think one thing and I another, but I myself may sometimes 
think one thing, and sometimes another. , , 

I4--T-" I wish, then, that this Courtier of ours should be nobly 
born and of gentle race; because it is far less unseemly for one 
of ignoble birth to fail in worthy deeds, than for one of noble 
birth, who, if he strays from the path of his predecessors, stains 
his family name, and not only fails to achieve but loses what has 
been achieved already; for noble birth is like a bright lamp that 
manifests and makes visible good and evil deeds, and kindles 
and stimulates to virtue both by fear of shame and by hope of 
praise. And since this splendour of nobility does not illumine 
the deeds of the humbly born, they lack that stimulus and fear 
of shame, nor do they feel any obligation to advance beyond what 
their predecessors have done; while to the nobly born it seems a 
reproach not to reach at least the goal set them by their ances- 
tors. And thus it nearly always happens that both in the pro- 
fession of arms and in other worthy pursuits the most famous 
men have been of noble birth, because nature has implanted in 
everything that hidden seed which gives a certain force and 
quality of its own essence to all things that are derived from it, 
and makes them like itself: as we see not only in the breeds of 
horses and of other animals, but also in trees, the shoots of which 
nearly always resemble the trunk; and if they sometimes degen- 
erate, it arises from poor cultivation. And so it is with men, 
who if rightly trained are nearly always like those from whom 
they spring, and often better; but if there be no one to give them 
proper care, they become like savages and never reach perfection. 

" It is true that, by favour of the stars or of nature, some men 
are endowed at birth with such graces that they seem not to 
have been born, but rather as if some god had formed them with 
his very hands and adorned them with every excellence of mind 
and body. So too there are many men so foolish and rude that 
one cannot but think that nature brought them into the world 
out of contempt or mockery. Just as these can usually accom- 
plish little even with constant diligence and good training, so 
with slight pains those others reach the highest summit of excel- 
lence. And to give you an instance: you see my lord Don Ippo- 
lito d'Este," Cardinal of Ferrara, who has enjoyed such fortune 

22 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

from his birth, that his person, his aspect, his words and all his 
movements are so disposed and imbued with this grace, that — 
although he is young — he exhibits among the most aged prelates 
such weight of character that he seems fitter to teach than to be 
taught; likewise in conversation with men and women of every 
rank, in games, in pleasantry and in banter, he has a certain 
sweetness and manners so gracious, that whoso speaks with him 
or even sees him, must needs remain attached to him forever. 

"But to return to our subject: I say that there is a middle 
state between perfect grace on the one hand and senseless folly 
on the other; and those who are not thus perfectly endowed by 
nature, with study and toil can in great part polish and amend 
their natural defects. Besides his noble birth, then, I would 
have the Courtier favoured in this regard also, and endowed by 
nature not only with talent and beauty of person and feature, 
but with a certain grace and (as we say) air that shall make him 
at first sight pleasing and agreeable to all who see him; and I 
would have this an ornament that should dispose and unite all 
his actions, and in his_outward,aspject,give promise of whatever—, 
^isjworthy the society and favour of every great lord." 

15— Here, without waiting longer, my lord Caspar Pallavi- 
cino said: 

" In order that our game may have the form prescribed, and 
that we may not seem to slight the privilege given us to contra- 
dict, I say that this nobility of birth does not appear to me so 
essential in the Courtier; and if I thought I were saying what 
was new to any of us, I should cite instances of many men born 
of the noblest blood who have been full of vices; and on the 
other hand, of many men among the humbly born who by their 
virtue have made their posterity illustrious. And if what you 
just said be true, namely that there is in everything this occult 
influence of the original seed, then we should all be in the same 
case, because we had the same origin, nor would any man be 
more noble than another. But as to our differences and grades 
of eminence and obscurity, I believe there are many other 
causes: among which I rate fortune to be chief; for we see her 
holding sway in all mundane affairs, often amusing herself by 
lifting to heaven whom she pleases (although wholly without 

23 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

merit), and burying in the depths those most worthy to be 
exalted. 

•' I quite agree with what you say as to the good fortune of 
those endowed from birth with advantages of mind and body: 
but this is seen as well among the humbly born as among 
the nobly born, since nature has no such subtle distinctions as 
these; and often, as I said, the highest gifts of nature are found 
among the most obscure. Therefore, since this nobility of birth 
is won neither by talent nor by strengfth nor by craft, and is 
rather the merit of our predecessors than our own, it seems to 
me too extravagant to maintain that if our Courtier's parents be 
humbly born, all his good qualities are spoiled, and that all those 
other qualifications that you mentioned do not avail to raise him 
to the summit of perfection; I mean talent, beauty of feature, 
comeliness of person, and that grace which makes him always 
charming to everyone at first sight." 

i6 Then_Count Ludovico replied: 

" I do not deny that the same virtues may rule the low-born 
and the noble: but (not to repeat what we have said already or 
the many other arguments that could be adduced in praise of 
noble birth, which is honoured always and by everyone, it being 
reasonable that good should beget good), since we have to form 
a Courtier without flaw and endowed with every praiseworthy 
quality, it seems to me necessary to make him nobly born, as 
well for many other reasons as for universal opinion, which is at 
once disposed in favour of noble birth. For if there be two 
Courtiers who have as yet given no impression of themselves by 
good or evil acts, as soon as the one is known to have been born 
a gentleman and the other not, he who is low-born will be far 
less esteemed by everyone than he who is high-born, and will 
need, much effort and time to make upon men's minds that good 
impression which the other will have achieved in a moment and 
merely by being a gentleman. And how important these impres- 
sions are, everyone can easily understand: for in our own case 
we have seen men present themselves in this house, who, being 
silly and awkward in the extreme, yet had throughout Italy the 
reputation of very great Courtiers; and although they were 
detected and recognized at last, still they imposed upon us for 

24 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

many days, and maintained in our minds that opinion of them 
which they first found impressed there, although they conducted 
themselves after the slightness of their worth. We have seen 
others, held at first in small esteem, then admirably successful 
at the last. ^ 

"And of these mistakes there are various causes: and among 
others, the regard of princes, who in their wish to perform mira- 
cles sometimes undertake to bestow favour on a man who seems 
to them to merit disfavour. And often too they are themselves 
deceived; but since they always have a host of imitators, their 
favour begets very great fame, which chiefly guides our judg- 
ments: and if we find anything that seems contrary to common 
opinion, we suspect that it is we ourselves who are wrong, and 
always seek for something hidden: because it seems that these 
universal opinions must after all be founded on fact and spring 
from rational causes; and because our minds are very prone to 
love and hate, as is seen in battle-shows and games and every 
other sort of contest, wherein the spectators without apparent 
cause become partisans of one side, with eager wish that it may 
win and the other lose. In our opinion of men's character also, 
good or evil fame sways our minds to one of these two passions 
from the start; and thus it happens that we usually judge with 
love or hate. You see then how important this first impression 
is, and how he ought to strive to make a good one at the outset, 
who thinks to hold the rank and name of good Courtier. 

17-—" But to come to some details, I am of opinion that the 
principal and true profession of the Courtier ought to be that of 
arms; which I would have him follow actively above all else, 
and be known among others as bold and strong, and loyal to 
whomsoever he serves. And he will win a reputation for these 
good qualities by exercising them at all times and in all places, 
since one may never fail in this without severest censure. And 
just as among women, their fair fame once sullied never recovers 
its first lustre, so the reputation of a gentleman who bears arms, 
if once it be in the least tarnished with cowardice or other dis- 
grace, remains forever infamous before the world and full of 
ignominy. Therefore the more our Courtier excels in this art, 
the more he will be worthy of praise; and yet I do not deem 

25 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

essential in him that perfect knowledge of things and those other 
qualities that befit a commander; since this would be too wide 
a sea, let us be content, as we have said, with perfect loyalty 
and unconquered courage, and that he be always seen to possess 
them. For the courageous are often recognized even more in 
small things than in great; and frequently in perils of importance 
and where there are many spectators, some men are to be found, 
who, although their hearts be dead within them, yet, moved by 
shame or by the presence of others, press forward almost with 
their eyes shut, and do their duty God knows how. While on 
occasions of little moment, when they think they can avoid put- 
ting themselves in danger without being detected, they are glad 
to keep safe. But those who, even when they do not expect to be 
observed or seen or recognized by anyone, show their ardour and 
neglect nothing, however paltry, that may be laid to their charge, 
— they have that strength of mind which we seek in our Courtier. 
" Not that we would have him look so fierce, or go about 
blustering, or say that he has taken his cuirass to wife, or 
threaten with those grim scowls that we have often seen in 
Berto;" because to such men as this, one might justly say that 
which a brave lady jestingly said in gentle company to one 
whom I will not name at present ;*" who, being invited by her 
out of compliment to dance, refused not only that, but to listen 
to the music, and many other entertainments proposed to him, — 
saying always that such silly trifles were not his business; so 
that at last the lady said, 'What is your business, then?' He 
replied with a sour look, ' To fight.' Then the lady at once said, 
• Now that you are in no war and out of fighting trim, I should 
think it were a good thing to have yourself well oiled, and to 
stow yourself with all your battle harness in a closet until you 
be needed, lest you grow more rusty than you are;' and so, 
amid much laughter from the bystanders, she left the discom- 
fited fellow to his silly presumption, 
f "Therefore let the man we are seeking, be very bold, stern, 
[ and always among the first, where the enemy are to be seen; 
and in every other place, gentle, modest, reserved, above all 
things avoiding ostentation and that impudent self-praise by 
J which men ever excite hatred and disgust in all who hear them." 

26 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

i8.— Then my lord Caspar replied: 

"As for me, I have known few men excellent in anything 
whatever, who do not praise themselves; and it seems to me 
that this may well be permitted them; for when anyone who 
feels himself to be of worth, sees that he is not known to the 
ignorant by his works, he is offended that his worth should lie 
buried, and needs must in some way hold it up to view, in order 
that he may not be cheated of the fame that is the true reward., 
of worthy effort. Thus among the ancient authors, whoever 
carries weight seldom fails to praise himself. They indeed are 
insufferable who do this without desert, but such we do not pre- 
sume our Courtier to be." 

The Count then said: 

" If you heard what I said, it was impudent and indiscriminate 
self-praise that I censured: and as you say, we surely ought not 
to form a bad opinion of a brave man who praises himself mod- 
estly, nay we ought rather to regard such praise as better evi- 
dence than if it came from the mouth of others. I say, however, 
that he, who in praising himself runs into no errour and incurs 
no annoyance or envy at the hands of those that hear him, is a 
very discreet man indeed and merits praise from others in addi- 
tion to that which he bestows upon himself; because it is a very 
difficult matter." 

Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" You must teach us that." 

The Count replied: 

" Among the ancient authors there is no lack of those who 
have taught it; but to my thinking, the whole art consists in 
saying things in such a way that they shall not seem to be said 
to that end, but let fall so naturally that it was impossible not to 
say them, and while seeming always to avoid self-praise, yet to 
achieve it; but not after the manner of those boasters, who open 
their mouths and let the words come forth haphazard. Like 
one of our friends a few days ago, who, being quite run through 
the thigh with a spear at Pisa, said he thought it was a fly that 
had stung him; and another man said he kept no mirrour in his 
room because, when angry, he became so terrible to look at, 
that the sight of himself would have frightened him too much." 
27 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Everyone laughed at this, but messer Cesare Gonzaga added: 

" Why do you laugh ? Do you not know that Alexander the 
Great, on hearing the opinion of a philosopher" to be that there 
was an infinite number of worlds, began to weep, and being 
asked why he wept, replied, ' Because I have not yet conquered 
one of them;' as if he would fain have vanquished all? Does 
not this seem to you a greater boast than that about the fly- 
sting ? " 

Then the Count said; 

" Yes, and Alexander was a greater man than he who made 
the other speech. But extraordinary men are surely to be par- 
doned when they assume much; for he who has great things to 
do must needs have daring to do them, and confidence in him- 
self, and must not be abject or mean in spirit, yet very modest in 
speech, showing less confidence in himself than he has, lest his 
self-confidence lead to rashness." 

'9 — The Count now paused a little, and messer Bernardo 
Bibbiena said, laughing: 

" I remember what you said earlier, that this Courtier of ours 
must be endowed by nature with beauty of countenance and 
person, and with a grace that shall make him so agreeable. 
Grace and beauty of countenance I think I certainly possess, and 
this is the reason why so many ladies are ardently in love with 
me, as you know; but I am rather doubtful as to the beauty of 
my person, especially as regards these legs of mine, which seem 
to me decidedly less well proportioned than I should wish: as to 
my bust and other members however, I am quite content. Pray, 
now, describe a little more in particular the sort of body that 
the Courtier is to have, so that I may dismiss this doubt and set 
my mind at rest." 

After some laughter at this, the Count continued: 

" Of a certainty that grace of countenance can be truly said to 
be yours, nor need I cite further example than this to show what 
manner of thing it is, for we unquestionably perceive your aspect 
to be most agreeable and pleasing to everyone, albeit the linea- 
ments of it are not very delicate. Still it is of a manly cast and 
at the same time full of grace; and this characteristic is to be 
found in many different types of countenance. And of such sort 

28 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

I would have our Courtier's aspect; not so soft and effeminate 
as is sought by many, who not only curl their hair and pluck 
their brows, but gloss their faces with all those arts employed by 
the most wanton and unchaste women in the world; and in their 
walk, posture and every act, they seem so limp and languid that 
their limbs are like to fall apart; and they pronounce their words 
so mournfully that they appear about to expire upon the spot: 
and the more they find themselves with men of rank, the more 
they affect such tricks. Since nature has not made them women, 
as they seem to wish to appear and be, they should be treated 
not as good women but as public harlots, and driven not merely 
from the courts of great lords but from the society of honest men. 

20.— " Then coming to the bodily frame, I say it is enough if this 
be neither extremely short nor tall, for both of these conditions 
excite a certain contemptuous surprise, and men of either sort are 
gazed upon in much the same way that we gaze on monsters. 
Yet if we must offend in one of the two extremes, it is preferable 
to fall a little short of the just measure of height than to exceed 
it, for besides often being dull of intellect, men thus huge of body 
are also unfit for every exercise of agility, which thing I should 
much wish in the Courtier. And so I would have him well built 
and shapely of limb, and would have him show strength and 
lightness and suppleness, and know all bodily exercises that befit 
a man of war: whereof I think the first should be to handle 
every sort of weapon well on foot and on horse, to understand 
the advantages of each, and especially to be familiar with those 
weapons that are ordinarily used among gentlemen; for besides 
the use of them in war, where such subtlety in contrivance is 
perhaps not needful, there frequently arise differences between 
one gentleman and another, which afterwards result in duels 
often fought with such weapons as happen at the moment to be 
within reach: thus knowledge of this kind is a very safe thing. 
Nor am I one of those who say that skill is forgotten in the hour 
of need; for he whose skill forsakes him at such a time, indeed 
gives token that he has already lost heart and head through fear. 

21.— " Moreover I deem it very important to know how to 
wrestle, for it is a great help in the use of all kinds of weapons on 
foot. Then, both for his own sake and for that of his friends, he 

29 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

must understand the quarrels and differences that may arise, and 
must be quick to seize an advantage, always showing courage 
and prudence in all things.** Nor should he be too ready to fight 
except when honour demands it; for besides the great danger 
that the uncertainty of fate entails, he who rushes into such 
affairs recklessly and without urgent cause, merits the severest 
censure even though he be successful. But when he finds him- 
self so far engaged that he cannot withdraw without reproach, 
he ought to be most deliberate, both in the preliminaries to the 
duel and in the duel itself, and always show readiness and daring. 
Nor must he act like some, who fritter the affair away in disputes 
and controversies, and who, having the choice of weapons, select 
those that neither cut nor pierce, and arm themselves as if they 
were expecting a cannonade; and thinking it enough not to be 
defeated, stand ever on the defensive and retreat, — showing 
therein their utter cowardice. And thus they make themselves 
a laughing-stock for boys, like those two men of Ancona who 
fought at Perugia not long since, and made everyone laugh who 
saw them," 

" And who were they ? " asked my lord Caspar Pallavicino, 

" Two cousins," replied messer Cesare. 

Then the Count said: 

"In their fighting they were as like as two brothers;" and 
soon continued: " Even in time of peace weapons are often used 
in various exercises, and gentlemen appear in public shows be- 
fore the people and ladies and great lords. For this reason I 
would have our Courtier a perfect horseman in every kind of 
seat; and besides understanding horses and what pertains to 
riding, I would have him use all possible care and diligence to 
lift himself a little beyond the rest in everything, so that he may 
be ever recognized as eminent above all others. And as we read 
of Alcibiades that he surpassed all the nations with whom he 
lived, each in their particular province, so I would have this 
Courtier of ours excel all others, and each in that which is most 
their profession. And as it is the especial pride of the Italians 
to ride well with the rein, to govern wild horses with consum- 
mate skill, and to play at tilting and jousting, — in these things 
let him be among the best of the Italians. In tourneys and in 

30 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the arts of defence and attack, let him shine among the best in 
France."' In stick-throwing, bull-fighting» and in casting speara 
and darts, let him excel among the Spaniards. But above every- 
thing he should temper all his movements with a certain good 
judgment and grace, if he wishes to merit that universal favour 
which is so greatly prized. 

22 — "There are also many other exercises, which although 
not immediately dependent upon arms, yet are closely connected 
therewith, and greatly foster manly sturdiness; and one of the 
chief among these seems to me to be the chase, because it bears 
a certain likeness to war: and truly it is an amusement for great 
lords and befitting a man at court, and furthermore it is seen to 
have been much cultivated among the ancients. It is fitting also 
to know how to swim, to leap, to run, to throw stones, for besides" 
the use that may be made of this in war, a man often has occasion"" 
to show what he can do in such matters; whence good esteem is 
Jx) be won, especially with the multitude, who must be taken into 
account withal. Another admirable exercise, and one very be- 
fitting a man at court, is the game of tennis, in which are well 
shown the disposition of the body, the quickness and suppleness 
of every member, and all those qualities that are seen in nearly 
every other exercise. Nor less highly do I esteem vaulting on 
horse, which although it be fatiguing and difficult, makes a man 
very light and dexterous more than any other thing; and besides 
its utility, if this lightness is accompanied by grace, it is to my 
thinking a finer show than any of the others.™ 

" Our Courtier having once become more than fairly expert in 
these exercises, I think he should leave the others on one side: 
such as turning summersaults, rope-walking, and the like, which 
savour of the mountebank and little befit a gentleman. 

" But since one cannot devote himself to such fatiguing ex- 
ercises continually, and since repetition becomes very tire- 
some and abates the admiration felt for what is rare, we must 
always diversify our life with various occupations. For this 
reason I would have our Courtier sometimes descend to 
quieter and more tranquil exercises, and in order to escape 
envy and to entertain himself agreeably with everyone, let him 
do whatever others do, yet never departing from praiseworthy 

31 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

deeds, and governing himself with that good judgment which 
will keep him from all folly; but let him laugh, jest, banter, 
frolic and dance, yet in such fashion that he shall always appear 
genial and discreet, and that everything he may do or say shall 
be stamped with grace." 

23.— Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" We certainly ought on no account to hinder the course of 
this discussion; but if I were to keep silence, I should be neglect- 
ful both of the right I have to speak and of my desire to know one 
thing: and let me be pardoned if I ask a question instead of con- 
tradicting; for this I think may be permitted me, after the prece- 
dent of messer Bernardo here, who in his over desire to be held 
comely, broke the rules of our game by asking a question instead 
of contradicting." 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

" You see how one errour begets many. Therefore he who 
transgresses and sets a bad example, like messer Bernardo, 
deserves to be punished not only for his own transgression but 
also for the others'." 

Then messer Cesare replied: 

" In that case, my Lady, I shall be exempt from penalty, since 
messer Bernardo is to be punished for his own fault as well as 
mine." 

" Nay," said my lady Duchess, " you both ought to have dou- 
ble punishment: he for his own transgression and for leading 
you to transgress; you for your own transgression and for imi- 
tating him." 

" My Lady," replied messer Cesare, " as yet I have not trans- 
gressed; so, to leave all this punishment to messer Bernardo 
alone, I will keep silence." 

And indeed he remained silent; when my lady Emilia laughed 
and said: 

" Say whatever you like, for under leave of my lady Duchess 
I pardon him that has transgressed and him that shall transgress, 
in so small a degree." 

" I consent," continued my lady Duchess. " But take care lest 
perchance you fall into the mistake of thinking to gain more by 
being merciful than by being just; for to pardon him too easily 

32 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

that has transgressed is to wrong him that transgresses not. 
Yet I would not have my severity reproach your indulgence, 
and thus be the cause of our not hearing this question of messer 
Cesare," 

And so, being given the signal by my lady Duchess and by my 
lady Emilia, he at once said: 

24.—" If I remember rightly. Sir Count, I think you have 
repeated several times this evening that the Courtier must ac- 
company his actions, gestures, habits, in short his every move- 
ment, with grace; and this you seem to regard as an universal 
seasoning, without which all other properties and good qualities 
are of little worth. And indeed I think that in this everyone 
would allow himself to be persuaded easily, since from the very 
force of the word, it may be said that he who has grace finds 
grace/' But since you said that this is oftentimes the gift of 
nature and of heaven and, even when not thus perfect, can with 
care and pains be made much greater, — those men who are 
born so fortunate and so rich in this treasure as are some we 
see, seem to me in this to have little need of other master; be- 
cause that benign favour of heaven almost in despite of them- 
selves leads them higher than they will, and makes them not 
only pleasing but admirable to all the world. Therefore I do 
not discuss this, it not being in our power to acquire it of our- 
selves. But they who have received from nature only so much, 
that they are capable of becoming graceful by pains, industry 
and care, — I long to know by what art, by what training, by 
what method, they can acquire this grace, as well in bodily 
exercises (in which you esteem it to be so necessary) as also in 
everything else that they may do or say. Therefore, since by 
much praise of this quality you have aroused in all of us, I 
think, an ardent thirst to pursue it, you are further bound, by the 
charge that my lady Emilia laid upon you, to satisfy that thirst 
by teaching us how to attain it." 

25-— "I am not bound," said the Count, "to teach you how 
to become graceful, or anything else; but only to show you 
what manner of man a perfect Courtier ought to be. Nor would 
I in any case undertake the task of teaching you this perfection; 
especially having said a little while ago that the Courtier must 

33 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

know how to wrestle, vault, and do many other things, which I 
am sure you all know quite as well as if I, who have never 
learned them, were to teach you. For just as a good soldier 
knows how to tell the smith what fashion, shape and quality his 
armour ought to have, but cannot show how it is to be made or 
forged or tempered; so I perhaps may be able to tell you what 
manner of man a perfect Courtier ought to be, but cannot teach 
you what you must do to become one. 

" Yet to comply with your request as far as is within my 
power, — although it is almost a proverb that grace is not to be 
learned, — I say that whoever would acquire grace in bodily 
exercises (assuming first that he be by nature not incapable), 
ought to begin early and learn the rudiments from the best 
masters. And how important this seemed to King Philip of 
Macedon, may be seen from the fact that he chose Aristotle, the 
famous philosopher and perhaps the greatest that has ever been 
in the world, to teach his son Alexander the first elements of let- 
ters. And of the men whom we know at the present day, con- 
sider how well and how gracefully my lord Galeazzo Sanseve- 
rino,"LGrand Equerry of France, performs all bodily exercises; 
and this because in addition to the natural aptitude of person 
that he possesses, he has taken the utmost pains to study with 
good masters, and always to have about him men who excel 
and to select from each the best of what they know: for just as 
in wrestling, vaulting and in the use of many sorts of weapons, 
he has taken for his guide our friend messer Pietro Monte, who 
(as you know) is the true and only master of every form of 
trained strength and agility, — so in riding, jousting and all else, 
he has ever had before his eyes the most proficient men that 
were known in those matters. 

26.—" Therefore he who wishes to be a good pupil, besides 
performing his tasks well, must put forth every effort to resem- 
ble his master, and, if it were possible, to transform himself into 
his master. And when he feels that he has made some progress, 
it will be very profitable to observe different men of the same 
calhng, and governing himself with that good judgment which 
must ever be his guide, to go about selecting now this thing 
from one and that thing from another. And as the bee in the 

34 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

green meadows is ever wont to rob the flowers among the 
grass, so our Courtier must steal this grace from all who 
seem to possess it, taking from each that part which shall most 
be worthy praise; and not act like a friend of ours whom you all 
know, who thought he greatly resembled King Ferdinand the 
Younger*" of Aragon, and made it his care to imitate the latter 
in nothing but a certain trick of continually raising the head 
and twisting one side of the mouth, which the king had con- 
tracted from some infirmity. And there are many such, who 
think they gain a point if only they be like a great man in some 
thing; and frequently they devote themselves to that which is 
his only fault. 

" But having before now often considered whence this grace 
springs, laying aside those men who have it by nature, I find one 
universal rule concerning it, which seems to me worth more in 
this matter than any other in all things human that are done or 
said: and that is to avoid affectation to the uttermost and as it 
were a very sharp and dangerous rock; and, to use possibly a 
new word, to practise in everything a certain nonchalance" that -.^^-^ 
shall conceal design and show that what is done and said is done^ "^ 
jwithout effort and almost without thought, From this I believe 
grace is in large measure derived, because everyone knows the 
difficulty of those things that are rare and well done, and there- 
fore facility in them excites the highest admiration; while on the 
other hand, to strive and as the saying is to drag by the hair, is 
extremely ungraceful, and makes us esteem everything slightly, 
however great it be. 

"Accordingly we may affirm that to be true art which does 
not appear to be art; nor to anything must we give greater care 
than to conceal art, for if it is discovered, it quite destroys our 
credit and brings us into small esteem. And I remember having 
once read that there were several very excellent orators of an- 
tiquity, who among their other devices strove to make everyone 
believe that they had no knowledge of letters; and hiding their 
knowledge they pretended that their orations were composed 
very simply and as if springing rather from nature and truth 
than from study and art; the which, if it had been detected, 
would have made men wary of being duped by it. 

35 



» 



/ THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Thus you see how the exhibition of art and study so intense 
destroys the grace in everything. Which of you is there who 
does not laugh when our friend messer Pierpaolo dances in his 
peculiar way, with those capers of his, — legs stiff to the toe and 
head motionless, as if he were a stick, and with such intentness 
that he actually seems to be counting the steps ? What eye so 
blind as not to see in this the ungracefulness of affectation, — and 
in many men and women who are here present, the grace of 
that nonchalant ease (for in the case of bodily movements many 
call it thus), showing by word or laugh or gesture that they have 
no care and are thinking more of everything else than of that, to 
make the onlooker think they can hardly go amiss ? " 

27-— Messer Bernardo Bibbiena here said, without waiting: 

" Now at last our friend messer Roberto*' has found someone 
to praise the manner of his dancing, as all the rest of you seem 
to value it lightly; because if this merit consists in nonchalance, 
and in appearing to take no heed and to be thinking more of 
everything else than of what you are doing, messer Roberto in 
dancing has no peer on earth; for to show plainly that he is not 
thinking about it, he often lets the cloak drop from his shoulders 
and the slippers from his feet, and still goes on dancing without 
picking up either the one or the other." 

Then the Count replied: 

" Since you insist on my talking, I will speak further of our 
faults. Do you not perceive that what you call nonchalance in 
messer Roberto, is -really affectation ? For it is clearly seen that 
he is striving with all his might to seem to be taking no thought, 
and this is taking too much thought; and since it passes the true 
limits of moderation, his nonchalance is affected and unbecom- 
ing; and it is a thing that works precisely the reverse of the 
effect intended, that is the concealment of art. Thus in non- 
chalance (which is praiseworthy in itself), I do not think that it 
is less a vice of affectation to let the clothes fall from one's back, 
than in care of dress (which also is praiseworthy in itself) to 
hold the head stiff for fear of disarranging one's locks, or to 
carry a mirrour in the peak of one's cap and a comb in one's 
sleeve, and to have a valet follow one about the streets with 
sponge and brush: for such care in dress and such nonchalance 

36 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

both touch upon excess, which is always offensive and contrary 
to that pure and charming simplicity which is so pleasing to the 
human mind, 

" You see how ungraceful a rider is who strives to sit bolt up- 
right in the saddle after the manner we are wont to call Vene- 
.tian," — as compared with another who seems not to be thinking 
aFout it, and sits his horse as free and steady as if he were afoot. 
How much more pleasing and how much more praised is a 
gentleman who carries arms, if he be modest, speak little and 
boast little, than another who is forever sounding his own 
praises, and with blasphemy and bluster seems to be hurling 
defiance at the world! This too is naught but affectation of 
wishing to appear bold. And so it is with every exercise, nay 
with everything that can be done or said in the world," 

28.— Then my lord Magnifico' said: 

" This is true also with music, wherein it is a very great fault 
to place two perfect consonances one after the other, so that our 
very sense of hearing abhors it and often enjoys a second or 
seventh, which in itself is a harsh and intolerable discord. And 
the reason is that repetition of perfect consonances begets 
satiety and exhibits a too affected harmony; which is avoided 
by introducing imperfect consonances, and thus a kind of con- 
trast is given, whereby our ears are held more in suspense, and 
more eagerly await and enjoy the perfect consonances, and 
sometimes delight in that discord of the second or seventh, as in 
something unpremeditated." 

" You see then," replied the Count, " the harmful effect of 
affectation in this as in other things. It is said also to have 
been proverbial among some very excellent painters of an- 
tiquity, that over diligence is harmful, and Protogenes is said 
to have been censured by Apelles because he did not know 
when to take his hand from the tablet,"" 

Then messer Cesare said: 

" Methinks our friend fra Serafino has this same fault, of not 
knowing when to take his hands from the table, at least until all 
the food has been taken from it too."'" 

The Count laughed, and continued: 

" Apelles meant that in his painting Protogenes did not know 

37 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

when he had finished, which was the same thing as reproving 
him for bemg affected in his work. Thus this excellence, which 
is the opposite of affectation and which for the present we call 
Tnonchalance, besides being the true fountain from which grace 
springs, carries with it another ornament, which, in accompany- 
ing any human action whatever and however trifling it be, not 
only at once reveals the knowledge of him who performs it, but 
r often leads us to rate his knowledge as much greater than in fact 
yit is ^ because it impresses upon the minds of the bystanders the 
idea that he who does well so easily, knows much more than he 
does, and that if he were to use care and effort in what he did, 
he could do it far better. 

" And to multiply like examples, here is a man who handles 
weapons, either about to throw a dart or holding a sword in his 
hand or other weapon; if he nimbly and without thinking puts 
himself in an attitude of readiness, with such ease that his body 
and all his members seem to fall into that posture naturally and 
quite without effort, — although he do no more, he will prove him- 
self to everyone to be perfect in that exercise. Likewise in dancing, 
a single step, a single movement of the person that is graceful 
and not forced, soon shows the knowledge of the dancer. A 
musician who in singing utters a single note ending with sweet 
tone in a little group of four notes with such ease as to seem 
spontaneous, shows by that single touch that he can do much 
more than he is doing. Often too in painting, a single line not 
laboured, a single brush-stroke easily drawn, so that it seems as 
if the hand moves unbidden to its aim according to the painter's 
wish, without being guided by care or any skill, clearly reveals 
the excellence of the craftsman, which every man appreciates 
according to his capacity for judging. And the same is true of 
nearly everything else. 

" Our Courtier then will be esteemed excellent and will attain 
grace in everything, particularly in speaking, if he avoids affec- 
tation; into which fault many fall, and often more than others, 
some of us Lombards; who, if they have been a year away from 
home, on their return at once begin to speak Roman, sometimes 
Spanish or French, and God knows how. And all this comes 
from over zeal to appear widely informed; in such fashion do 

38 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

men devote care and assiduity to acquiring a very odious fault. 
And truly it would be no light task for me, if I were to try in 
these discussions of ours to use those antique Tuscan words that 
are quite rejected by the usage of the Tuscans of to-day; and 
besides I think everyone would laugh at me." 

29.— Then messer Federico said: 

" Of course in discussing among ourselves as we now are 
doing, perhaps it would be amiss to use those antique Tuscan 
words, since (as you say) they would be fatiguing to him who 
uttered them and to him who listened to them, and by many 
would not be understood without difficulty. But if one were 
writing, I should certainly think he would be wrong not to use 
them, because they add much grace and authority to writing, 
and from them there results a style more grave and full of 
majesty than from modern words." 

" I do not know," replied the Count, " that writings can gain 
grace and authority from those words that ought to be avoided, 
not merely in such talk as we are now engaged in (which you 
yourself admit), but also under every other circumstance that 
can be imagined. For if any man of good judgment should 
chance to make a speech on serious matters before the very 
senate of Florence, which is the capital of Tuscany, or even to 
converse privately with a person of weight in that city about 
important business, or with his closest friend about affairs of 
pleasure, with ladies or gentlemen about love, or joking or jest- 
ing at feasts, games, and where you will, — or whatever the time, 
place or matter, — I am sure he would avoid using those antique 
Tuscan words; and if he did use them, besides exciting ridicule, 
he would give no little annoyance to everyone who listened to 
him. 

" It seems to me then a very strange thing to use as good in 
writing those words that are avoided as faulty in every sort of 
speaking, and to insist that what is never proper in speaking, is 
the most proper style that can be used in writing. For in my 
opinion writing is really nothing but a form of speech, which 
still remains after we have spoken, as it were an image or rather 
the life of our words: and thus in speech, which is lost as soon 
as the sound has gone forth, some things are bearable perhaps 

39 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

that are not in writing, because writing preserves the words and 
subjects them to the judgment of the reader and gives time to 
consider them advisedly. Hence in writing it is reasonable 
to take greater pains to make it more refined and correct; not 
however in such wise that the written words may be unlike the 
spoken, but that, in writing, choice be made of the most beautiful 
that are used in speaking. And if that were allowed in writing 
which is not allowed in speaking, I think a very great inconve- 
nience would arise: which is that greater license could be taken 
in that respect wherein greater care ought to be taken; and the 
industry bestowed on writing would work harm instead of good. 

" Therefore it is certain that what is proper in writing, is 
proper also in speaking, and that manner of speaking is most 
beautiful which is like beautiful writing. Moreover I think it is 
far more necessary to be understood in writing than in speaking, 
because those who write are not always present before those 
who read, as those who speak are present before those who 
speak." But I should praise him, who besides avoiding many 
antique Tuscan words, acquired facility, both writing and speak- 
ing, in the use of those that are to-day familiar in Tuscany and 
in the other parts of Italy, and that have comeliness of sound. 
And I think that whoever imposes other rule upon himself, is not 
very sure of escaping that affectation which is so much censured 
and of which we were speaking earlier." 

30-— Then messer Federico said: 

" Sir Count, I cannot gainsay you that writing is a kind of 
speech. Indeed, I say that if words that are spoken have any 
obscurity in them, the meaning does not penetrate the mind of 
him who hears, and passing without being understood, comes to 
naught: which does not occur in writing, because if the words 
that the writer uses carry with them a little, I will not say diffi- 
culty, but subtlety that is recondite and thus not so familiar as 
are the words that are commonly used in speaking, — they give a 
certain greater authority to the writing, and cause the reader to 
proceed more cautiously and collectedly, to consider more, and 
to enjoy the genius and learning of him who writes; and by 
judiciously exerting himself a little, he tastes that delight which 
is found in the pursuit of difficult things. And if the ignorance 

40 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of him who reads is so great that he cannot overcome those diffi- 
culties, it is not the fault of the writer, nor on this account ought 
that style to be deemed unbeautiful. 

" Therefore in writing, I believe it is proper to use Tuscan 
words used only by the ancient Tuscans, because that is great 
proof and tested by time, that they are good and effective to 
express the sense in which they are used. And besides this, 
they have that grace and venerableness which age lends not 
only to words, but to buildings, to statues, to pictures, and to 
everything that is able to attain it, and often merely by their 
splendour and dignity they make diction beautiful, by virtue 
whereof (and of grace) every theme, however mean it be, can be 
so adorned as to merit very high praise. But this custom of 
yours, by which you set such store, seems to me very dangerous, 
and often it may be bad; and if some fault of speech is found 
widely prevalent among the ignorant many, methinks it ought 
not on this account to be taken as a rule and followed by other 
men. Moreover customs are very diverse, nor is there a noble 
city of Italy that has not a different manner of speaking from all 
the others. But as you do not limit yourself to declaring which 
is the best, a man might as well adopt the Bergamasque as the 
Florentine, and according to you it would be no errour.'' 

" Therefore I think that whoever wishes to avoid all doubt 
and be quite safe, must needs select as model someone who by 
consent of all is rated good, and must take him as a constant 
guide and shield against any possible adverse critic. And this 
model (in the vernacular, I mean) I do not think should be other 
than Petrarch™ and Boccaccio; and whoever departs from 
these two, gropes like one who walks in the dark without a light 
and thus often mistakes the road. But we are so daring that 
we do not deign to do that which the good writers of old did, — 
that is, devote themselves to imitation, without which I think a 
man cannot write well.*" And methinks good proof of this is 
shown us by Virgil, who by his genius and judgment so divine 
took from all posterity the hope of ever being able to imitate 
him well, yet fain would imitate Homer." 

3I-— Then my lord Gaspar Pallavicino said: 

" This discussion about writing is certainly well worth listen- 

41 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ing to: still it would be more to our purpose if you were to 
teach us in what manner the Courtier ought to speak, for I 
think he has greater need of it and more often has occasion to 
employ speaking than writing." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" Nay, for a Courtier so excellent and so perfect there is no 
doubt but it is necessary to know both the one and the other, 
and that without these two accomplishments perhaps all the 
rest would not be very worthy of praise. So if the Count wishes 
to perform his duty, he will teach the Courtier not only how to 
speak, but also how to write well." 

Then the Count said : 

" My lord Magnifico, that task I will on no account accept; for 
great folly would be mine to pretend to teach others that which 
I do not myself know, and (even if I did know it) to think myself 
able to do in only a few words that which with so much care 
and pains has hardly been done by most learned men, — to whose 
works I should refer our Courtier, if I were indeed bound to 
teach him how to write and speak." 

Messer Cesare said: 

" My lord Magnifico means speaking and writing the vernacu- 
lar [Italian], and not Latin; so those works by learned men are 
not to our purpose. But in this matter there is need for you to 
tell us what you know about it, because for the rest we will hold 
you excused." 

The Count replied: 

" I have told you that already; but as we are speaking of the 
Tuscan tongue, perhaps it would be, more than any other man's, 
my lord Magnifico's office to give an opinion on it." 

The Magnifico said : 

" I cannot and in reason ought not to contradict any man who 
says that the Tuscan tongue is more beautiful than the others."' 
It is very true that in Petrarch and in Boccaccio are found many 
words that are now discarded by the custom of to-day; and 
these I for my part would never use either in speaking or in 
writing; and I believe that they themselves, if they had survived 
until now, would no longer use those words." 

Then messer Federico said: 

4a 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Indeed they would. And you Tuscan gentlemen ought to 
keep up your mother tongue, and not suffer it to decay, as you 
do, — so that now one may say that there is less knowledge of it 
in Florence than in many other parts of Italy." 

Then messer Bernardo said: 

" These words that are no longer used in Florence have sur- 
vived among the country folk, and are rejected by the gentle as 
corrupt and spoiled with age." 

32.— Then my lady Duchess said: 

" Let us not wander from our main purpose, but have Count 
Ludovico teach the Courtier how to speak and write well, whe- 
ther it be in the Tuscan or any other dialect." 

" My Lady," replied the Count, " I have already told what I 
know about it; and I hold that the same rules which serve to 
teach the one, serve also to teach the other. But since you 
require it of me, I will make such response as I may to messer 
Federico, who has a different opinion from mine; and perhaps I 
shall have need to discuss the matter somewhat more diffusely 
than is right. However, it shall be all I can tell. 

" And first I say that in my judgment this language of ours»_ 
whjch we call vulgar, is still tender and new, although it be, 
already long in use. For since Italy was not only vexed and 
j-avaged but long inhabited by the barbarians, the Latin Ian-" 
guage was corrupted and spoiled by contact with those nations, 
and from that corruption other languages were born: and like 
rivers that from the crest of the Apennines separate and flow 
down into the two seas, so also these languages divided, and 
some of them tinged with Latinity reached by diverse paths, one 
this country and one that ; and one of them remained in Italy 
tinged with barbarism. Thus our language was long unformed 
and various, from having Tiad no one to bestow care upon 
_it or write in it or try to give it splendour or grace: but after- 
wards it was somewhat more cultivated in Tuscany than in 
jthe other parts of Italy. And so its flower seems to have re- 
mained there even from those early times, because that nation 
more than the others preserved a sweet accent and a proper 
grammatical order, and have had three noble writers'" who 
expressed their thoughts ingeniously and in those words and 

43 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

terms that the custom of their times permitted: wherein I think 
Petrarch succeeded more happily than the others in amourous 
subjects. 

" Afterwards from time to time, not only in Tuscany but in all 
Italy, among noble men and those well versed in courts and 
arms and letters, there arose some desire to speak and write 
more elegantly than had been done in that rude and uncultivated 
age, when the blaze of the calamities inflicted by the barbarians 
was not yet quenched. Many words w^ere laid aside, as well in 
the city of Florence itself and in all Tuscany as in the rest of 
Italy, and instead of them others were taken up; and herein 
there thus occurred that change which takes place in all human 
affairs and has always happened in the case of the other lan- 
guages also. For if those earliest writings in ancient Latin had 
survived until now, we should see that Evander and Turnus" 
and the other Latins of that age spoke differently from the last 
Roman kings and the first consuls. See how the verses that the 
Salian priests chaunted were hardly understood by posterity;*^ 
but being established in that form by the first founders, out 
of religious reverence they were not changed. Likewise the 
orators and poets continued one after another to lay aside many 
words used by their predecessors: thus Antonius, Crassus, 
Hortensius and Cicero avoided many of Cato's words, and Vir- 
gil avoided many of Ennius's;*^* and the others did the same. 
For although they had reverence for antiquity, yet they did not 
esteem it so highly as to consent to be bound by it in the way you 
would have us bound by it now. Nay they criticised it where 
they saw fit, as did Horace, who says that his forefathers lauded 
Plautus foolishly, and thinks he has a right to gather in new 
words.* And in sundry places Cicero reprehends many of his 
predecessors, and slightingly affirms that Sergius Galba's ora- 
tions had an antique flavour,"' and says that Ennius himself dis- 
prized his predecessors in certain things: so that if we would 
imitate the ancients, in doing so we shall not imitate them. And 
Virgil, who (you say) imitated Homer, did not imitate him in 
language. 

33 — "Therefore I for my part should always avoid using 
these antique words, save however in certain places, and seldom 

44 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

even there; and it seems to me that whoever uses them other- 
wise makes a mistake, not less than he who, in order to imitate 
the ancients, should wish to feed on acorns when wheat had 
been discovered in plenty. And since you say that by their 
mere splendour of antiquity, antique words so adorn every sub- 
ject, however mean it be, that they can make it worthy of much 
praise, — I say that I do not set such store, not only by these an- 
tique words but even by good ones, as to think that they ought 
in reason to be prized without the pith of beautiful thoughts; for 
to divide thought from words is to divide soul from body, which 
can be done in neither case without destruction. J 

" So I think that what is chiefly important and necessary for 
the Courtier, in order to speak and write well, is knowledge; for 
he who is ignorant and has nothing in his mind that merits 
being heard, can neither say it nor write it. 

" Next he must arrange in good order what he has to say or 
write; then express it well in words, which (if I do not err) 
ought to be precise, choice, rich and rightly formed, but above 
all, in use even among the masses; because such words as these 
make the grandeur and pomp of speech, if the speaker has good | 
sense and carefulness, and knows how to choose the words most 1 
expressive of his meaning, and to exalt them, to mould them ' 
like wax to his will, and to arrange them in such position and 
order that they shall at a glance show and make known their 
dignity and splendour, like pictures placed in good and proper 
light. 

"And this I say as well of writing as of speaking: in which 
however some things are required that are not needful in 
writing, — such as a good voice, not too thin and soft like a 
woman's, nor yet so stern and rough as to smack of the rustic's, — 
but sonorous, clear, sweet and well sounding, with distinct enun- 
ciation, and with proper bearing and gestures; which I think 
consist in certain movements of the whole body, not affected or 
violent, but tempered by a calm face and with a play of the eyes 
that shall give an effect of grace, accord with the words, and as 
far as possible express also, together with the gestures, the 
speaker's intent and feeling. 

" But all these things would be vain and of small moment, if 

45 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the thoughts expressed by the words were not beautiful, inge- 
nious, acute, elegant and grave, — according to the need." 

34-— Then my lord Morello said: 

" If this Courtier speaks with so much elegance and grace, I 
doubt if anyone will be found among us who will understand 
him." 

" Nay, he will be understood by everyone," replied the Count, 
" because facility is no impediment to elegance. 

" Nor would I have him speak always of grave matters, but of 
amusing things, of games, jests and waggery, according to the 
occasion; but sensibly of everything, and with readiness and 
lucid fullness; and in no place let him show vanity or childish 
folly. And again when he is speaking on an obscure or difficult 
subject, I would have him carefully explain his meaning with 
precision of both word and thought, and make every ambiguity 
clear and plain with a certain touch of unpedantic care. Like- 
wise, where there is occasion, let him know how to speak with 
dignity and force, to arouse those emotions that are part of our 
nature, and to kindle them or to move them according to the 
need. Sometimes, with that simple candour that makes it seem 
as if nature herself were speaking, let him know how to soften 
them, and as it were to intoxicate them with sweetness, and so 
easily withal that the listener shall think that with very little 
effort he too could reach that excellence, and when he tries, 
shall find himself very far behind. 

" In such fashion would I have our Courtier speak and write; 
and not only choose rich and elegant words from every part of 
Italy, but I should even praise him for sometimes using some 
of those French and Spanish terms that are already accepted by 
our custom.** Thus it would not displease me if on occasion he 
were to say, pritnor (excellence); or acertare (to succeed), 
aventurare (to run a risk successfully); or ripassare una persona 
con ragionamento , meaning to sound a person and to talk with 
him in order to gain perfect knowledge of him; or un cavalier 
sensa riniproccio (a cavalier without reproach), attilafo (elegant), 
creato d'un principe (a prince's creature), and other like terms, 
provided he might hope to be understood.* 

" Sometimes I would have him use a few words in a sense 

46 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

other than that proper to them, to transpose them aptly, and as 
it were to graft them, like the branch of a tree, upon a more 
appropriate trunk, — so as to make them more attractive and 
beautiful, and as it were to bring things within the range of our 
vision, and within hand-touch as we say, to the delight of him 
who hears or reads. Nor would I have him scruple to form 
new words and in new figures of speech, deriving them taste- 
fully from the Latins, as of old the Latins derived them from 
the Greeks. 

35-—" Now if among the lettered men of good talent and 
judgment who to-day are found in our midst, there were a 
few who would take care to write in this language (as I have 
described) things worthy of being read, we should soon see it 
studied and abounding in beautiful terms and figures, and capa- 
ble of being written in as well as is any other whatsoever; and 
if it were not pure old Tuscan, it would be Italian, — universal, 
copious and varied, and in a way like a delightful garden full of 
various flowers and fruits. Nor would this be a novel thing; for 
from the four dialects that the Greek writers had in use,"" they 
culled words, forms and figures from each as they saw fit, and 
thence they brought forth another dialect which was called 
'common,' and later they called all five by the single name 
Greek. And although the Attic dialect was more elegant, pure 
and copious than the others, good writers who were not Athe- 
nians by birth did not so affect it as to be unrecognizable by their 
style and by the perfume (as it were) and essence of their native 
speech. Nor yet were they disprized for this; on the contrary 
those who tried to seem too Athenian, were censured for it. 
Among the Latin writers too, many non-Romans were highly 
esteemed in their day, although there was not found in 
them that typical purity of the Roman tongue which men of 
other race can rarely acquire. Thus Titus Livius was not at 
all discarded, although someone professed to have detected a 
Paduan flavour in him;" nor was Virgil, albeit reproached with 
not speaking Roman. Moreover, as you know, many writers of 
barbarian race were read and esteemed at Rome. 

" We, on the contrary, much more strict than the ancients, 
needlessly impose certain new laws upon ourselves, and with the 

47 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

beaten highways before our eyes, we seek to go along the by- 
paths; for in our own language, — of which, as of all others, the 
office is to express thought well and clearly, — we delight our- 
selves with obscurity; and calling it the vulgar tongue, we try in 
speaking it to use words that are understood neither by the vul- 
gar nor yet by the gentle and lettered, and are no longer used in 
any place; unmindful that all the good writers of old disapproved 
words discarded by custom. Which to my thinking, you do not 
rightly understand; since you say that if some fault of speech is 
widely prevalent among the ignorant, it ought not for that reason 
to be called custom or accepted as a rule of speech, and from 
what I have heard you sometimes say, you would have us use 
Campidoglio in place of Capitolio ; Girolamo for Hieronymo; aldace 
for atidace; and padrone for patrone, and other words corrupt 
and spoiled like these; because they are found written thus by 
some ignorant old Tuscan, and because the Tuscan country folk 
speak thus to-day .'' 

" Hence I believe that good custom in speech springs from men 
who have talent and who have gained good judgment from study 
and experience, and who therefore agree and consent to accept 
the words that to them seem good, which are recognized by a 
certain innate judgment and not by any art or rule. Do you not 
know^ that figures of speech, which give so much grace and 
splendour to an oration, are all infringements of grammatical 
rules, yet accepted and confirmed by usage, because, although 
unable to offer other reason, they give pleasure and seem to carry 
suavity and sweetness to our very sense of hearing ? And this I 
believe to be good custom, — of which the Romans, the Neapoli- 
tans, the Lombards and the rest, may be as capable as the 
Tuscans are. 

36.— "It is very true that in every language certain things 
are always good, such as ease, good order, richness, beautiful 
sentences, harmonious periods; and on the contrary affectation 
and other things opposed to these, are bad. But among words 
there are some that remain good for a time, then grow antiquated 
and wholly lose their grace; others gain strength and come to 
be esteemed. For as the seasons of the year despoil the earth 
of flowers and fruits and then clothe it anew with others, so time 

48 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

causes those primal words to decay, and use makes others to be 
born again and gives them grace and dignity, until they in their 
turn meet their death, consumed by the envious gnawing of time; 
for in the end both we and all our concerns are mortal. Con- 
sider that we no longer have any knowledge of the Oscan 
tongue/' The Provencal, although it may be said to have been 
but lately celebrated by noble writers, is not now understood by 
the inhabitants of that country. Hence I think, as my lord 
Magnifico has well said, that if Petrarch and Boccaccio were 
alive at this time, they would not use many words that we find in 
their writings: therefore it does not seem to me well for us to 
copy these words. I applaud very highly those who know how 
to imitate that which ought to be imitated, but I do not at all 
believe that it is impossible to write well without imitating, — and 
particularly in this language of ours, wherein we may be aided 
by usage: which I should not dare say of Latin." 

37-— The messer Federico said: 

" Why would you have usage more esteemed in the vernacular 
than in Latin ? " 

" Nay," replied the Count, "I esteem usage as mistress of both 
the one and the other. But since those men to whom the Latin 
tongue was as natural as the vernacular now is to us, are no 
longer on earth, we must needs learn from their writings that 
which they learned from usage. Nor does ancient speech mean 
anything more than ancient usage of speech, and it would be a 
silly business to like ancient speech for no other reason than a 
wish to speak as men used to speak rather than as they now 
speak." 

" Then," replied messer Federico, " the ancients did not imi- 
tate ? " 

" I believe," said the Count, " that many of them did, but not in 
everything. And if Virgil had imitated Hesiod in everything, he 
would not have surpassed his master; nor Cicero, Crassus; nor 
Ennius, his predecessors. You know Homer is so ancient that 
many believe he is the first heroic poet in time as he is also 
in excellence of diction: and whom would you think he imi- 
tated ? " 

" Some other poet," replied messer Federico, " more ancient 

49 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

than he, of whom we have no knowledge because of excessive 
antiquity." 

" Then whom," said the Count, " would you say Petrarch and 
Boccaccio imitated, who were on earth only three days since, one 
may say ? " 

" I know not," replied messer Federico; " but we may believe 
that even their minds were directed to imitation, although we do 
not know of whom." 

The Count replied: 

" "We may believe that they who were imitated, surpassed 
those who imitated them; and if they were admirable, it would 
be too great a marvel that their name and fame should be so 
soon extinguished. But I believe that their real master was 
aptitude and their own native judgment; and at this there is no 
one who ought to wonder, since nearly always the summit of 
every excellence may be approached by diverse roads. Nor is 
there anything that has not in it many things of the same sort 
which are dissimilar and yet intrinsically deserving of equal 
praise. 

" Consider music, the harmonies of which are now grave and 
slow, now very fast and of novel moods and means; yet all give 
pleasure, albeit for different reasons: as is seen in Bidon's'' man- 
ner of singing, which is so skilful, ready, vehement, fervid, and 
of such varied melodies, that the listener's spirits are moved and 
inflamed, and thus entranced seem to be lifted up to heaven. 
Nor does our friend Marchetto Cara'^move us less by his sing- 
ing, but with a gentler harmony; because he softens and pene- 
trates our souls by placid means and full of plaintive sweetness, 
gently stirring them to sweet emotion. 

" Again, various things give equal pleasure to our eyes, so that 
we can with difiiculty decide which are more pleasing to them. 
You know that in painting Leonardo da Vinci,* Mantegna,'' 
Raphael,* Michelangelo,* Giorgio da Castelfranco,™ are very ex- 
cellent, yet they are all unlike in their work; so that no one of 
them seems to lack anything in his own manner, since each is 
known as most perfect in his style. 

" It is the same with many Greek and Latin poets, who, al- 
though different in their writing, are equal in their fame. The 

50 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

orators, too, have always had so much diversity among them- 
selves, that almost every age has produced and prized a type of 
orator peculiar to its own time; and these have been different 
not only from their predecessors and successors, but from one 
another: as it is written of Isocrates, Lysias, ^schines,"" and 
many others among the Greeks, — all excellent, yet each resem- 
bling no one but himself. So, among the Latins, Carbo, Laelius, 
Scipio Africanus, Galba, Sulpicius, Cotta, Gracchus, Marcus 
Antonius, Crassus,"" and so many others that it would be tedious 
to name them, — all good and very different one from another; 
so that if a man were able to consider all the orators that have 
been in the world, he would find as many kinds of oratory as of 
orators. I think I remember too that Cicero in a certain place"" 
makes Marcus Antonius say to Sulpicius that there are many 
who imitate no man and yet arrive at the highest pitch of excel- 
lence; and he speaks of certain ones who had introduced a new 
form and figure of speech, beautiful but not usual among the 
orators of that time, wherein they imitated no one but them- 
selves. For that reason he affirms also that masters ought 
to consider the pupils' nature, and taking this as guide ought to 
direct and aid them to the path towards which their aptitude 
and natural disposition incline them. Hence I believe, dear 
messer Federico, that if a man has no innate affinity for any 
particular author, it is not well to force him to imitate, because 
the vigour™ of his faculty languishes and is impeded when turned 
from the channel in which it would have made progress had that 
channel not been barred. 

" Therefore I do not see how it can be well, instead of enrich- 
ing this language of ours and giving it spirit and grandeur and 
light, to make it poor, thin, humble and obscure, and to try to 
restrict it in such narrow bounds that everyone shall be forced 
to imitate Petrarch and Boccaccio alone; and how, in respect of 
language, we ought not also to give credence to Poliziano,'"' to 
Lorenzo de' Medici,™ to Francesco Diacceto,'" and to some others 
who are also Tuscans and perhaps of no less learning and judg- 
ment than were Petrarch and Boccaccio. And great pity would 
it be indeed to set a limit, and not to surpass that which almost 
the earliest writers achieved, and to deny that so many men of 

51 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

such noble genius can ever find more than one beautiful form 
of expression in this language which is proper and natural to 
them. But to-day there are certain scrupulous souls, who so 
frighten the listener with the cult and ineffable mysteries of this 
Tuscan tongue of theirs, as to put even many a noble and 
learned man in such fear, that he dare not open his mouth and 
confesses that he does not know how to speak the very lan- 
guage which he learned in swaddling clothes from his nurse. 

" However I think we have said only too much of this; so now 
let us go on with our discussion about the Courtier." 

38 Then messer Federico replied: 

" I should first like to say one thing more, which is that I do 
not deny men's opinions and aptitudes to be different among 
themselves. Nor do I believe that it would be well for a natu- 
rally vehement and excitable man to set himself to write of placid 
themes, or for another, being severe and grave, to write jests; 
for in this matter it seems to me reasonable that everyone should 
adapt himself to his own proper instinct. And I think Cicero 
was speaking of this when he said that masters ought to have 
regard to their pupils' nature, in order not to act like bad hus- 
bandmen, who will sometimes sow grain in land that is fruitful 
only for the vine. 

" Still I cannot get it into my head why, in the case of a par- 
ticular language, — which is not proper to all men equally, like 
speech and thought and many other functions, but an invention 
of limited use, — it is not more rational to imitate those who speak 
better, than to speak at random; or why, just as in Latin we 
ought to try to approach the language of Virgil and Cicero rather 
than that of Silius or Cornelius Tacitus,"* it is not better in the 
vernacular also to imitate the language of Petrarch and Boccac- 
cio than any other's; yet to express our thoughts in it well, and 
thus to give heed to our own natural instinct, as Cicero teaches. 
And in this way it will be found that the difference which you say 
there is among good orators, consists in sense and not in language." 

Then the Count said: 

" I fear we shall be entering on a wide sea, and shall be leav- 
ing our first subject of the Courtier. However, I ask you in what 
consists the excellence of this language?" 

52 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Messer Federico replied: 

"In preserving strictly its proprieties, in giving it that sense, 
and in using that style and those rhythms, which have been used 
by all who have written well." 

"I should like to know," said the Count, "whether this style 
and these rhythms of which you speak, arise from the thought or r 
from the words." o 

"From the words," replied messer Federico. 

" Then," said the Count," do not the words of Silius and Cornelius 
Tacitus seem to you the same that Virgil and Cicero use? and 
employed in the same sense?" 

"Certainly they are the same," replied messer Federico, "but 
some of them wrongly applied and turned awry." 

The Count replied: 

"And if from a book of Cornelius and from one of Silius, all 
those words were removed that are used in a sense different from 
that of Virgil and Cicero, which would be very few, — would you 
not then say that Cornelius was the equal of Cicero in language, 
and Silius of Virgil, and that it would be well to imitate their 
manner of speech?" 

39 — Then my lady Emilia said: 

"Methinks this debate of yours is far too long and tedious; 
therefore it were well to postpone it to another time." 

Messer Federico was about to reply none the less, but my lady 
Emilia always interrupted him. At last the Count said: 

"Many men like to pass judgment upon style and to talk about 
rhythms and imitation; but they cannot make it at all clear to me 
what manner of thing style or rhythm is, or in what imitation 
consists, or why things taken from Homer or from someone else 
are so becoming in Virgil that they seem illumined rather than 
imitated. Perhaps this is because I am not capable of under- 
standing them; but since a good sign that a man knows a thing, 
is his ability to teach it, I suspect that they too understand it but 
little, and that they praise both Virgil and Cicero because they 
hear such praise from many, not because they perceive the differ- 
ence that exists between these two and others: for in truth it does 
not consist in preserving two or three or ten words used in a way 
different from the others. 

53 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

"In Sallust, Caesar, Varro'"' and the other good writers, some 
terms are found used differently from the way Cicero uses them; 
and yet both ways are proper, for the excellence and force of a 
language lie in no such trifling matter: as Demosthenes well said 
to iEschines, who tauntingly asked him whether certain words 
that he had used (although not Attic) were prodigies or portents; 
and Demosthenes laughed and replied that the fortunes of Greece 
did not hang on such a trifle. So I too should care little if I were 
reproved by a Tuscan for having said satisfatto rather than sodis- 
fatto, honorevole for Jiorrevole, causa for cagione, populo for popolo, 
and the like." 

Then messer Federico rose to his feet and said: 

" Hear me these few words, I pray." 

"The pain of my displeasure," replied my lady Emilia, laughing, 
" be upon him who speaks more of this matter now, for I wish to 
postpone it to another evening. But do you. Count, go on with 
the discussion about the Courtier, — and show us what a fine 
memory you have, which I think you will do in no small measure, 
if you are able to take up the discussion where you left it." 

40 — <'My Lady," replied the Count, "I fear the thread is broken; 
yet if I am not wrong, methinks we were saying that the pest of 
affectation imparts extreme ungracefulness to everything, while 
on the other hand simplicity and nonchalance produce the height 
of grace: in praise of which, and in blame of affectation, we might 
cite many other arguments; but of these I wish to add only one, 
and no more. Women are always very eager to be — and when 
they cannot be, at least to seem — beautiful. So where nature is 
somewhat at fault in this regard, they try to piece it out by arti- 
fice; whence arise that painting of the face with so much care and 
sometimes pains, that plucking of the eyebrows and forehead, 
and the use of all those devices and the endurance of that trouble, 
which you ladies think to keep very secret from men, but which 
are all well known." 

Here madonna Costanza Fregosa laughed and said: 

" It would be far more courteous for you to keep to your dis- 
cussion, and tell us of what grace is born, and talk about Cour- 
tiership, — than to try to unveil the weaknesses of women, which 
are not to the purpose." 

54 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

"Nay, much to the purpose," replied the Count: "for these 
weaknesses of yours I am speaking of, deprive you of grace 
because they spring from nothing but affectation, wherein you 
openly make known to everyone your over-eagerness to be 
beautiful. 

" Do you not see how much more grace a lady has who paints 
(if at all) so sparingly and so little, that whoever sees her is in 
doubt whether she be painted or not; than another lady so plas- 
tered that she seems to have put a mask upon her face and dares 
not laugh for fear of cracking it, nor ever changes colour but 
when she dresses in the morning, and then stands motionless all 
the rest of the day like a wooden image, showing herself only 
by candle-light, like wily merchants who display their cloths in a 
dark place? Again, how much more pleasing than all others is 
one (I mean not ill-favoured) who is plainly seen to have nothing 
on her face, although it be neither very white nor very red, but 
by nature a little pale and sometimes tinged with an honest flush 
from shame or other accident, — with hair artlessly unadorned and 
hardly confined, her gestures simple and free, without showing 
care or wish to be beautiful! This is that nonchalant simplicity 
most pleasing to the eyes and minds of men, who are ever fearful 
of being deceived by art. v^^^v^^ 

" Beautiful teeth are very charming in a woman, for since they 
are not so much in view as the face is, but lie hidden most of the 
time, we may believe that less care is taken to make them beau- 
tiful than with the face. Yet if one were to laugh without cause 
and solely to display the teeth, he would betray his art, and how- 
ever beautiful they were, would seem most ungraceful to all, like 
Catullus's Egnatius."" It is the same with the hands; which, if 
they are delicate and beautiful, and occasionally left bare when 
there is need to use them, and not in order to display their beauty, 
they leave a very great desire to see more of them, and especially 
if covered with gloves again; for whoever covers them seems to 
have little care or thought whether they be seen or not, and 
to have them thus beautiful more by nature than by any effort 
or pains. 

" Have you ever noticed when a woman, in passing through 
the street to church or elsewhere, thoughtlessly happens (either in 

55 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

frolic or from other cause) to lift her dress high enough to show 
the foot and often a little of the leg? Does this not seem to you 
full of grace, when you see her tricked out with a touch of femi- 
nine daintiness in velvet shoes and neat stockings? I for one 
delight in it and believe you all do, for everyone is persuaded 
that elegance, in matters thus hidden and rarely seen, is natural 
and instinctive to the lady rather than forced, and that she does 
not think to win any praise by it. 

41 — "In this way we avoid and hide affectation, and you can 
now see how opposed and destructive it is to grace in every office 
as well of the body as the mind: whereof we have thus far spoken 
little, and yet we must not omit it, for since the mind is of far 
more worth than the body, it deserves to be more cultivated and 
adorned. And as to what ought to be done in the case of our 
Courtier, we will lay aside the precepts of the many sage philoso- 
phers who write of this matter and define the properties of the 
mind and discuss so subtly about their rank, — and keeping to our 
subject, we will in a few words declare it to be enough that he be 
(as we say) an honest and upright man; for in this are included 
prudence, goodness, strength and temperance of mind, and all 
the other qualities that are proper to a name so honoured. And 
I esteem him alone to be a true moral philosopher, who wishes to 
be good; and in this regard he needs few other precepts than 
that wish. And therefore Socrates was right in saying that he 
thought his teachings bore good fruit indeed whenever they 
incited anyone to understand and teach virtue: for they who 
have reached the goal of desiring nothing more ardently than to 
be good, easily acquire knowledge of everything needful there- 
for; so we will discuss this no further. 

4a.—" Yet besides goodness, I think that letters are for every- 
one the true and principal ornament of the mind: although the 
French recognize only the nobility of arms and esteem all else 
as naught. Thus they not only fail to prize but they abhor 
letters, and hold all men of letters most base, and think they 
speak very basely of any man when they call him a clerk." 

Then the Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" You say truly, that this fault has long been prevalent among 
the French. But if kind fate decrees that Monseigneur d'An.-_ 

56 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

gouleme'" shall succeed to the crown, as is hoped, I think that 
just as the glory of arms flourishes and shines in France, so too 
ought that of letters to flourish in highest state; for it is not long 
since I, being at the court, saw this prince, and it seemed to me 
that besides the grace of his person and the beauty of his face, 
he had in his aspect such loftiness, joined however with a cer- 
tain gracious humanity, that the realm of France must always 
seem small for him. I heard afterwards from many gentlemen, 
both French and Italian, of his very noble manner of life, of his 
loftiness of mind, of his valour and liberality. And among other 
things I was told that he loved and esteemed letters especially 
and held all men of letters in greatest honour; and he con- 
demned the French themselves for being so hostile to this pro- 
fession, especially as they have within their borders such a 
noble school as that of Paris, frequented by all the world.'"" 

Then the Count said: 

" It is a great marvel that in such tender youth, solely by 
natural instinct and against the usage of his country, he has of 
himself chosen so worthy a path. And as subjects always copy 
the customs of their superiors, it may be that, as you say, the 
French will yet come to esteem letters at their true worth : 
whereto they may easily be persuaded, if they will but listen to 
reason; since nothing is by nature more desirable for men, or 
more proper to them, than knowledge, which it is great folly to 
say or believe is not always a good thing. 

43 — " And if I were speaking with them, or with others who 
had an opinion contrary to mine, I should strive to show them 
how useful and necessary letters are to our life and dignity, 
having indeed been granted by God to men as a crowning gift. 
Nor should I lack instances of many excellent commanders of 
antiquity, who all added the ornament of letters to the valour of 
their arms. 

" Thus you know Alexander held Homer in such veneration 
that he always kept the Iliad by his bedside; and he devoted 
the greatest attention not only to these studies but to philo- 
sophical speculation under Aristotle's guidance. Alcibiades en- 
larged his natural aptitudes and made them greater by means 
of letters and the teachings of Socrates. The care that Caesar 

57 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

gave to study is also attested by the surviving works that he 
divinely wrote. It is said that Scipio Africanus always kept in 
his hand the works of Xenophon, wherein the perfect king is 
portrayed under the name of Cyrus. I could tell you of Lucul- 
lus, Sulla, Pompey, Brutus,'" and many other Romans and 
Greeks; but I will merely remind you that Hannibal, the illustri- 
ous commander, — although fierce by nature and a stranger to all 
humanity, faithless and a despiser of both men and gods, — yet 
had knowledge of letters and was conversant with the Greek 
language; and if I mistake not, I once read that he even left a 
book composed by him in Greek. 

" However it is superfluous to tell you this, for I well know 
that you all see how wrong the French are in thinking that let- 
ters are injurious to arms. You know that glory is the true 
stimulus to great and hazardous deeds of war, and whoso is 
moved thereto by gain or other motive, besides doing nothing 
good, deserves not to be called a gentleman, but a base traf- 
ficker. And true glory is that which is preserved in the sacred 
treasure-house of letters, as everyone may understand except 
those unfortunates who have never enjoyed them. 

" What soul is there so abject, timid and humble, that when 
he reads of the deeds of Caesar, Alexander, Scipio, Hannibal, 
and many others, is not inflamed by an ardent desire to be like 
them, and does not make small account of this frail two days' 
life, in order to win the almost eternal life of fame, which in 
spite of death makes him live in far greater glory than before ? 
But he who does not feel the delight of letters, cannot either 
know how great is the glory they so long preserve, and mea- 
sures it by the life of one man or two, because his memory runs 
no further. Hence he cannot esteem this short-lived glory so 
much as he would that almost eternal glory if knowledge of it 
were unhappily not denied him, and as he does not esteem it so 
much, we may reasonably believe that he will not run such 
danger to pursue it as one who knew it would. 

" I should be far from willing to have an antagonist cite in- 
stances to the contrary in refutation of my view, and urge upon 
me that with all their knowledge of letters the Italians have for 
some time since shown little martial valour, — which is alas only* 

58 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

too true."* But it very certainly might be said that the fault of a 
few has brought not only grievous harm but eternal obloquy 
upon all the rest; and from them was derived the true cause of 
our ruin and of the decadence if not the death of valour in our 
souls: yet it would be far more shameful in us to publish it, than 
for the French to be ignorant of letters. Therefore it is better 
to pass over in silence that which cannot be recalled without 
pain: and avoiding this subject (upon which I entered against 
my will) to return to our Courtier. 

44-—" I would have him more than passably accomplished in 
letters, at least in those studies that are called the humanities, 
and conversant not only with the Latin language but with the 
Greek, for the sake of the many different things that have been 
admirably written therein.'" Let him be well versed in the 
poets, and not less in the orators and historians, and also profi- 
cient in writing verse and prose, especially in this vulgar tongue of 
ours;'" for besides the enjoyment he will find in it, he will by 
this means never lack agreeable entertainment with ladies,'" 
who are usually fond of such things. And if other occupations 
or want of study prevent his reaching such perfection as to ren- 
der his writings worthy of great praise, let him be careful to 
suppress them so that others may not laugh at him, and let him 
show them only to a friend whom he can trust: because they 
will at least be of this service to him, that the exercise will 
enable him to judge the work of others. For it very rarely 
happens that a man who is not accustomed to write, however 
learned he may be, can ever quite appreciate the toil and indus- 
try of writers, or taste the sweetness and excellence of style, and 
those latent niceties that are often found in the ancients. 

" Moreover these studies will also make him fluent, and as 
Aristippus said to the tyrant, confident and assured in speaking 
with everyone.'" Hence I would have our Courtier keep one 
precept fixed in mind; which is that in this and everything else 
he should be always on his guard, and diffident rather than for- 
ward, and that he should keep from falsely persuading himself 
that he knows that which he does not know. For by nature we 
all are fonder of praise than we ought to be, and our ears love 
the melody of words that praise us more than any other sweet 

59 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

song or sound; and thus, like sirens' voices, they are often the 
cause of shipwreck to him who does not close his ears to such 
deceptive harmony. Among the ancient sages this danger was 
recognized, and books were written showing in what way the 
true friend may be distinguished from the flatterer.'" But what 
does this avail, if there be many, nay a host, of those who clearly 
perceive that they are flattered, yet love him who flatters them, 
and hold him in hatred who tells them the truth? And often 
when they find him who praises them too sparing in his words, 
they even help him and say such things of themselves, that the 
flatterer is put to shame, most impudent though he be. 

" Let us leave these blind ones to their errour, and have our 
Courtier of such good judgment that he will not take black for 
white, or have more self-confidence than he clearly knows to be 
well founded; and especially in those peculiarities which (if you 
remember) messer Cesare in his game said we had often used 
as an instrument to bring men's folly to light. On the contrary, 
even if he well knows the praises bestowed upon him to be true, 
let him not err by accepting them too openly or confirming them 
without some protest; but rather let him as it were disclaim 
them modestly, always showing and really esteeming arms as 
his chief profession, and all other good accomplishments as an 
ornament thereto. And particularly among soldiers let him not 
act like those who insist on seeming soldiers in learning, and 
learned men among soldiers. In this way, for the reasons we 
have alleged, he will avoid affectation, and even the middling 
things that he does, shall seem very great." 

45'— Messer Pietro Bembo here replied: 

" Count, I do not see why you insist that this Courtier, being 
lettered and endowed with so many other admirable accomplish- 
ments, should hold everything as an ornament of arms, and not 
arms and the rest as an ornament of letters; which without 
other accompaniment are as superiour in dignity to arms, as the 
mind is to the body, for the practice of them properly pertains 
to the mind, as that of arms does to the body." 

Then the Count replied: 

"Nay, the practice of arms pertains to both mind and body. 
But I would not have you judge in such a cause, messer Pietro, for 

60 



\ 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

you would be too much suspected of bias by one of the two sides: 
and as the controversy has already been long waged by very 
wise men, there is no need to renew it; but I regard it as settled 
in favour of arms, and would have our Courtier so regard it too, 
since I may form him as I wish. And if you are of contrary 
mind, wait till you hear of a contest wherein he who defends the 
cause of arms is allowed to use arms, just as those who defend 
letters make use of letters in their defence; for if everyone 
avails himself of his proper weapons, you shall see that men of 
letters will be worsted." 

"Ah," said messer Pietro, "a while ago you blamed the French 
for prizing letters little, and told what glorious lustre is shed on 
man by letters and how they make him immortal; and now it 
seems you have changed your mind. Do you not remember that 

Before the famous tomb of brave Achilles 
Thus spake the mighty Alexander, sighing: 
' O happy youth, who found so clear a trumpet, 
And lofty bard to make thy deeds undying ! ' ™ 

And if Alexander envied Achilles not for his deeds, but for the 
fortune that had granted him the happiness of having his exploits 
celebrated by Homer, we may conclude that Alexander esteemed 
Homer's poems above Achilles's arms. For what other judge do 
you wait then, or for what other sentence upon the dignity of 
arms and letters, than that pronounced by one of the greatest 
commanders that have ever been?" 

46.— Then the Count replied: 

"I blame the French for thinking that letters are a hindrance 
to the profession of arms, and I hold that learning is more proper 
to no one than to a warrior; and in our Courtier I would have 
these two accomplishments joined and each aided by the other, 
as is most proper: nor do I think I have changed my mind in 
this. But as I said, I do not wish to discuss which of the two is 
more worthy of praise. It is enough that men of letters almost 
never select for praise any but great men and glorious deeds, 
which in themselves merit praise for the mere essential quality 
from which they spring; besides this they are very noble material 
for writers: which is a great ornament, and in part the cause of 
6x 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

perpetuating writings, which perhaps would not be so much read 
and appreciated if they lacked their noble theme, but vain and of 
little moment. 

"And if Alexander was envious that Achilles should be 
praised by Homer, it does not therefore follow that he esteemed 
letters above arms; wherein if he had felt himself as far behind 
Achilles as he deemed all those who wrote of him were behind 
Homer, I am sure he would far rather have desired fine acts on 
his part than fine speeches on the part of others. Hence I 
believe that saying of his to have been a tacit eulogy of himself, 
and that he was expressing a desire for what he thought he did 
not possess (that is, the supreme excellence of a writer), and not 
for what he believed he already had attained (that is, prowess in 
arms, wherein he did not deem Achilles at all his superior). 
Thus he called Achilles happy, as if hinting that although his 
own fame had hitherto not been so celebrated in the world as 
Achilles's, which was made bright and illustrious by that poem 
so divine, — it was not because his valour and merits were less 
or deserving of less praise, but because fortune bestowed upon 
Achilles that miracle of nature as a glorious trumpet for his 
achievements. Perhaps also he wished to incite some noble 
genius to write about him, by showing that this must be as 
pleasing to him as were his love and veneration for the sacred 
monuments of letters: whereof we have spoken long enough for 
the present," 

" Nay, too long," replied my lord Ludovico Pio; " for I believe 
that in the whole world it would be impossible to find a recepta- 
cle large enough to hold all the things you would have in our 
Courtier." 

Then the Count said: 

" W^ait a little, for there are many more that he must have." 

"In that case," replied Pietro da Napoli, "Grasso de' Medici 
would have a great advantage over messer Pietro Bembo."'" 

47 — Here everyone laughed, and the Count began anew and said: 

" My lords, you must know that I am not content with the 
Courtier unless he be also a musician and unless, besides under- 
standing and being able to read notes, he can play upon divers 
instruments. For if we consider rightly, there is to be found no 

62 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

rest from toil or medicine for the troubled spirit more becoming 
and praiseworthy in time of leisure, than this; and especially in 
courts, where besides the relief from tedium that music affords 
us all, many things are done to please the ladies, whose tender 
and gentle spirit is easily penetrated by harmony and filled with 
sweetness. Thus it is no marvel that in both ancient and mod- 
ern times they have always been inclined to favour musicians, 
and have found refreshing spiritual food in music." 

Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" I admit that music as well as many other vanities may be 
proper to women and perhaps to sc-me that have the semblance 
of men, but not to those who reaily are men; for these ought 
not to enervate their mind with del ghts and thus induce therein 
a fear of death." 

"Say not so," replied the Count; "for I shall enter upon a 
vast sea in praise of music. And I shall call to mind how it 
was always celebrated and held sacred among the ancients, and 
how very sage philosophers were of opinion that the world is 
composed of music, that the heavens make harmony in their 
moving, and that the soul, being ordered in like fashion, awakes 
and as it were revives its powers through music. 

" Thus it is written that Alexander was sometimes excited by 
it so passionately, that he was forced almost against his will to 
leave the banquet table and rush to arms; and when the musi- 
cian changed the temper of the tune, he grew calm again, lay 
aside his arms, and returned to the banquet table. Moreover I 
will tellyou that grave Socrates Iciirned to play the cithern'" at 
a very advanced age. And I remember having once heard that 
Plato and Aristotle would have the man of culture a musician 
also; and they show by a host of arguments that the power of 
music over us is very great, and (for many reasons which would 
be too long to tell now) that it must needs be taught from child- 
hood, not so much for the mere melody that we hear, but for the 
power it has to induce in us a fresh and good habit of mind and 
an habitual tendency to virtue, which renders the soul more 
capable of happiness, just as bodily exercise renders the body 
more robust;'" and that music is not only no hindrance in the 
pursuits of peace and war, but is very helpful therein. 

63 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Again, Lycurgus™ approved of music in his harsh laws. And 
we read that in their battles the very warlike Lacedemonians 
and Cretans used the cithern and other dulcet instruments; that 
many very excellent commanders of antiquity, like Epaminon- 
das,'" practised music; and that those who were ignorant of it, 
like Themistocles,'"' were far less esteemed. Have you not read 
that music was among the first accomplishments which the wor- 
thy old Chiron taught Achilles in tender youth,"' whom he reared 
from the age of nurse and c?adle? and that the sage preceptor 
insisted that the hands which were to shed so much Trojan blood, 
should be often busied with the cithern? Where is the soldier 
who would be ashamed to iihitate Achilles, — to say nothing of 
many other famous commanders whom I could cite? 

"Therefore seek not to deprive our Courtier of music, which 
not only soothes men's minds, but often tames wild beasts;'"'" and 
he who enjoys it not, may be sure that his spirit is ill attuned. 
See what power it has, to make (as once it did) a fish submit to 
be ridden by a man upon the boisterous sea."' We find it used 
in holy temples to render praise and thanks to God; and we 
must believe that it is pleasing to Him and that He has given it 
to us as most sweet alleviation for our fatigues and troubles. 
Wherefore rough toilers of the field under a burning sun often 
cheat their weariness with crude and rustic song. W^ith music 
the rude peasant lass, who is up before the day to spin or weave, 
wards off her drowsiness and makes her toil a pleasure; music 
is very cheering pastime fo:: poor sailors after rain, wind and 
tempest: a solace to tired pilgrims on their long and weary 
journeys, and often to sorrowing captives in their chains and 
fetters. Thus, as stronger proof that melody even if rude is 
very great relief from every human toil and care, nature seems 
to have taught it to the nurse as chief remedy for the continual 
wailing of frail children, v^'ho by the sound of her voice are 
brought restful and placid s ieep, forgetful of the tears so proper 
to them and given us in that age by nature as a presage of our 
after life." 

48 — As the Count now remained silent for a little, the Magnifico 
Giuliano said: 

" I do not at all agree with my lord Caspar. Nay I think, for 

64 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the reasons you give and for many others, that music is not only 
an ornament but a necessity to the Courtier. Yet I would have 
you declare in what way this and the other accomplishments 
that you prescribe for him, are to be practised, and at what time 
and in what manner.™ For many things that are praiseworthy 
in themselves often become very inappropriate when practised 
out of season, and on the other hand, some that seem of little 
moment are highly esteemed when made use of opportunely." 

49-— Then the Count said: 

" Before we enter upon that subject, I wish to discuss another 
matter, which I deem of great importance and therefore think 
our Courtier ought by no means to omit: and this is to kaosK 
how to draw and to have acquaintance with_the_very-^art^Qf^ 
painting. 

" And do not marvel that I desire this art, which to-day may 
seem to savour of the artisan and little to befit a gentleman; for 
I remember having read that the ancients, especially throughout 
Greece, had their boys of gentle birth study painting in school 
as an honourable and necessary thing, and it was admitted to 
the first rank of liberal arts; while by public edict they forbade 
that it be taught to slaves. Among the Romans too, it was held 
in highest honour, and the very noble family of the Fabii took 
their name from it; for the first Fabius was given the name 
Pictor, because, — being indeed a most excellent painter, and so 
devoted to painting that when he painted the walls of the temple 
of Health, — he inscribed his own name thereon;'" for although 
he was born of a family thus renowned and honoured with so 
many consular titles, triumphs and other dignities, and although ^ 
he was a man of letters and learned in the law, and numbered ^ 
among the orators, — yet he thought to add splendour and orna- 
ment to his fame by leaving a memorial that he had been a,: 
painter. Nor is there lack of many other men of illustrious " 
family, celebrated in this art; which besides being very noble 
and worthy in itself, is of great utility, and especially in war for 
drawing places, sites, rivers, bridges, rocks, fortresses, and the 
like; since however well we may keep them in memory (which 
is very difficult), we cannot show them to others, 

" And truly he who does not esteem this art, seems to me very 

65 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

unreasonable; for this universal fabric that we see, — with the 
vast heaven so richly adorned with shining stars, and in the 
midst the earth girdled by the seas, varied with mountains, 
valleys and rivers, and bedecked with so many divers trees, 
beautiful flowers and grasses, — may be said to be a great and 
noble picture, composed by the hand of nature and of God; and 
whoever is able to imitate it, seems to me deserving of great 
praise: nor can it be imitated without knowledge of many things, 
as he knows well who tries. Hence the ancients greatly prized 
both the art and the artist, which thus attained the summit of 
highest excellence; very sure proof of which maybe found in 
the antique marble and bronze statues that yet are seen."" And 
although painting is different from sculpture, both the one and 
the other spring from the same source, which is good design. 
Therefore, as the statues are divine, so we may believe the pic- 
tures were also; the more indeed because they are susceptible 
of greater skill." 

50-— Then my lady Emilia turned to Giancristoforo Romano, 
who was sitting with the others there, and said: 

" What think you of this opinion ? Do you admit that paint- 
ing is susceptible of greater skill than sculpture?"™ 

Giancristoforo replied: 

" I, my Lady, think that sculpture needs more pains, more 
skill, and is of greater dignity than painting." 

The Count rejoined: 

" In that statues are more enduring, perhaps we might say 
they are of greater dignity ; for being made as memorials, they 
fulfil better than painting the purpose for which they are made. 
But besides serving as memorials, both painting and sculpture 
serve also to beautify, and in this respect painting is much 
superior; for if less diuturnal (so to speak) than sculpture, yet 
it is of very long life, and is far more charming so long as it 
endures." 

Then Giancristoforo replied: 

" I really think that you are speaking against your convic- 
tions and that you are doing so solely for the sake of your 
friend Raphael; and perhaps too the excellence you find in his 
painting seems to you so consummate that sculpture cannot 

66 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

rival it: but consider that this is praise of an artist and not of his 
art." 

Then he continued: 

" It seems clear to me that both the one and the other are 
artificial imitations of nature; but I do not see how you can say 
that truth, such as nature makes it, is not better imitated in a 
marble or bronze statue, — wherein the members are round, -» 

formed and measured, as nature makes them, — than in a paint- ^~^ 
ing, where we see nothing but the surface and those colours 
that cheat the eyes; nor will you tell me, surely, that being is 
not nearer truth than seeming. Moreover I think sculpture is^ 
more difficult, because if a slip is made, it cannot be corrected 
(since marble cannot be patched again), but another statue must 
be made anew; which does not happen with painting, for one 
may change a thousand times, and add and take away, improv- 
ing always." 

5I-— The Count said, laughing: 

" I am not speaking for Raphael's sake; nor ought you to 
repute me so ignorant as not to know the excellence of Michel- 
angelo in sculpture, your own, and oth ers'. But I am speaking 
of the art, and not of the artists. 

" You say very truly that both the one and the other are imi-^ 
tations of nature; but it is not true that painting seems, and 
sculpture is. For while statues are round as in life and painting 
is seen only on the surface, statues lack many things that paint-^ 
ings do not lack, and especially light and shade. Thus flesh has 
one tone and marble another; and this the painter imitates to 
the life by chiaroscuro, greater or less according to the need, — 
which the sculptor cannot do. And although the painter does 
not make his figure round, he presents the muscles and mem- 
bers rounded in such fashion as so to join the parts which are 
not seen, that we can discern very well that the painter knows 
and understands these also. And in this, another and greater 
skill is needed to represent those members that are foreshort- 
ened and grow smaller in proportion to the distance by reason 
of perspective; which, by means of measured lines, colours, 
lights and shades, shows you foreground and distance all on the 
single surface of an upright wall, in such proportion as he 
67 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

chooses."* Do you really think it of small moment to imitate 
the natural colours, in representing flesh or stuffs or any other 
coloured thing? The sculptor certainly cannot do this, or 
express the grace of black eyes or blue, with the splendour of 
their amourous beams. He cannot show the colour of fair hair, 
or the gleam of weapons, or a dark night, or a storm at sea, or 
its lightnings and thunderbolts, or the burning of a city, or the 
birth of rosy dawn with its rays of gold and purple. In short, 
/uAki I l^e cannot show sky, sea, earth, mountains, woods, meadows, 
j^ I gardens, rivers, cities, or houses, — all of which the painter 

Ijshows. ,' -'i-.t'^ . _., '.'.^^ , \ (>>Jf ^kf/,'- ^ ■ 

tJ>CB*^ 52 — "Therefore painting seems to me nobler and more sus- 
ceptible of skill, than sculpture. And I think that it, like other 
things, reached the summit of excellence among the ancients: 
which still is seen in the few slight remains that are left, espe- 
cially in the grottoes of Rome;"^^' but much more clearly may it 
be perceived in the ancient authors, wherein is such honoured 
and frequent mention both of works and of masters, and where- 
by we learn how highly they were always honoured by great 
lords and by commonw^ealths. 

"Thus we read that Alexander loved Apelles of Ephesus 
dearly, — so dearly, that having caused the artist to paint a por- 
trait of his favourite slave undraped, and hearing that the wor- 
thy painter had become most ardently enamoured of her by 
reason of her marvellous beauty, he gave her to Apelles without 
hesitation: — munificence truly worthy of Alexander, to sacrifice 
not only treasure and states but his very affections and desires; 
and sign of exceeding love for Apelles, in order to please the 
artist, not to hesitate at displeasing the woman he dearly 
loved, who (we may believe) was sorely grieved to change so 
great a king. for a painter. Many other signs also are told of 
Alexander's favour to Apelles; but he very clearly showed 
how highly he esteemed the painter, in commanding by public 
edict that none other should presume to paint his portrait. 

" Here I could tell you of the rivalries of many noble painters, 
which filled nearly the whole world with praise and wonder- 
ment. I could tell you with what solemnity ancient emperors 
.adorned their triumphs with pictures, and set them up in public 

68 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

places, and how dearly bought them; and that there were some 
painters who gave their works as gifts, esteeming gold and 
silver inadequate to pay for them; and how a painting by Pro- 
togenes was prized so highly, that when Demetrius'*' laid siege 
to Rhodes and could have gained an entrance by setting fire to 
the quarter where he knew the painting was, he refrained from 
giving battle so that it might not be burned, and thus did not 
capture the place; and that Metrodorus,"' a philosopher and 
very excellent painter, was sent by the Athenians to Lucius 
Paulus''" to teach his children and to adorn the triumph that he 
was about to receive. Moreover many noble authors have 
written about this art, which is a great sign of the esteem in 
which it was held; but I do not wish to enlarge further upon it 
in this discussion. 

" So let it be enough to say that it is fitting for our Courtier 
to have knowledge of painting also, as being honourable and 
useful and highly prized in those times when men were of far 
greater worth than now they are. And if he should never 
derive from it other use or pleasure than the help it affords in 
judging the merit of statues ancient and modern, of vases, build- 
ings, medals, cameos, intaglios, and the like, — it also enables him 
to appreciate the beauty of living bodies, not only as to delicacy 
of face but as to symmetry of all the other parts, both in men 
and in every other creature. Thus you see how a knowledge 
of painting is a source of very great pleasure. And let those 
think of this, who so delight in contemplating a woman's beauty 
that they seem to be in paradise, and yet cannot paint; which if 
they could do, they would have much greater pleasure, because 
they would more perfectly appreciate that beauty which engen- 
ders such satisfaction in their hearts." 

53-— Here messer Cesare Gonzaga laughed, and said: 

"Certainly I am no painter; yet I am sure I have greater 
pleasure in looking upon a woman than that admirable Apelles, 
whom you just mentioned, would have if he were now come 
back to life." 

The Count replied: 

" This pleasure of yours is not derived wholly from her 
beauty, but from the affection that perhaps you bear her; and if 

69 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

you will say the truth, the first time you saw that woman you 
did not feel a thousandth part of the pleasure that you did after- 
wards, although her beauty was the same. Thus you may see 
how much more affection had to do with your pleasure, than 
beauty had." 

"I do not deny this," said messer Cesare; "but just as my 
pleasure is born of affection, so is affection born of beauty. 
Thus it may still be said that beauty is the cause of my 
pleasure." 

The Count replied: 

"Many other causes also inflame our minds, besides beauty: 
such as manners, knowledge, speech, gesture, and a thousand 
other things which in a way perhaps might also be called beau- 
ties ; but above all, the consciousness of being loved. So it is 
possible to love very ardently even without that beauty you 
speak of; but the love that springs from the outward bodily 
beauty which we see, will doubtless give far greater pleasure 
to him who appreciates it more than to him who appreciates 
it less. Therefore, to return to our subject, I think that Apelles 
enjoyed the contemplation of Campaspe's beauty far more than 
Alexander did:™ for we may easily believe that both men's love 
sprang only from her beauty; and perhaps it was partly on this 
account that Alexander resolved to give her to him who seemed 
fitted to appreciate her most perfectly. 

"Have you not read that those five maidens of Crotona, whom 
the painter Zeuxis chose above the others of that city for the 
purpose of forming from them all a single type of surpassing 
beauty, were celebrated by many poets as having been adjudged 
beautiful by one who must have been a consummate judge of 
beauty?"'" 

54 — Messer Cesare here seemed ill satisfied and unwilling to 
admit for a moment that anyone but himself could taste that 
pleasure which he felt in contemplating a woman's beauty, and 
he began to speak. But just then a great tramping of feet was 
heard, and the sound of loud talking; whereupon everyone 
turned, and a glare of torches was seen at the door of the room, 
and soon there arrived, with a numerous and noble company, 
my lord Prefect,' who returned from attending the pope part 

70 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

way on the journey. At once on entering the palace he had 
asked what my lady Duchess was doing, and had learned of 
what manner the game was that evening, and the charge im- 
posed on Count Ludovico to speak about Courtiership. There- 
fore he came as fast as he could, so as to arrive in season to 
hear something. Then, immediately after having made his 
reverence to my lady Duchess and bidden the others to be 
seated (for everyone had risen when he came in), — he too sat 
down in the circle with some of his gentlemen; among whom 
were the Marquess Febus di Ceva and his brother Gerardino,'" 
messer Ettore Romano,'" Vincenzo Calmeta,'" Orazio Florido,"' 
and many others; and as everyone remained silent, my lord 
Prefect said: 

" Gentlemen, my coming here would be indeed a pity, if I were 
to interrupt such a fine discussion as I think you were just now 
engaged in; so do me not this wrong of depriving yourselves 
and me of such a pleasure." 

Then Count Ludovico said: 

" Nay, my Lord, I think we all must be far better pleased to 
be silent than to speak; for this burden having fallen more to 
me than to the others this evening, I have at last grown weary 
of speaking, and I think all the others are weary of listening, for 
my talk has not been worthy of this company or adequate to the 
lofty theme that I was charged with; in which, having little satis- 
fied myself, I think I have satisfied the others still less. So you 
were fortunate, my Lord, to come in at the end. And for the 
rest of the discussion, it would indeed be well to appoint some- 
one else to take my place, because whoever he may be, I know 
he will fill it far better than I should even if I were willing to go 
on, being now tired as I am." 

The Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

55-—" I certainly shall not submit to be cheated of the promise 
that you made me, and am sure my lord Prefect too will not be 
sorry to hear that part of our discussion." 

" And what promise was it?" said the Count. 

" To tell us in what way the Courtier must make use of those 
good qualities that you have said befit him," replied the Magnifico. 

Although but a boy, my lord Prefect was wise and sensible 

71 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

beyond what seemed natural to his tender years, and in his 
every movement he showed a loftiness of mind and a certain 
vivacity of temper that gave true presage of the high pitch of 
manliness that he was to attain. So he said quickly: 

'* If all this is to be told, I think I have come just in time ; for 
by hearing in what way the Courtier must use his good qualities, 
I shall hear also what they are, and thus shall come to learn 
everything that has been said before. So do not refuse, Count, 
to fulfil the obligation of which you have already performed a 
part." 

" I should not have so heavy an obligation to fulfil," replied 
the Count, " if the labour were more evenly divided; but the 
mistake was made of giving the right of command to a too par- 
tial lady;" and then laughing he turned to my lady Emilia, who 
quickly said: 

"It is not you who ought to complain of my partiality; but 
since you do so without reason, we will give someone else a 
share of this honour, which you call labour;" and turning to 
messer Federico Fregoso, she said: "You proposed the game of 
the Courtier, hence it is right that you should bear some share 
in it; and this shall be to comply with my lord Magnifico's re- 
quest, by declaring in what way, manner and time, the Courtier 
ought to make use of his good qualities and practise those things 
which the Count has said it is fitting he should know." 

Then messer Federico said: 

" My Lady, in trying to separate the way and the time and the 
manner of the Courtier's good qualities and good practice, you 
try to separate that which cannot be separated, because these 
are the very things that make his qualities good, and his practice 
good. Therefore, since the Count has spoken so much and so 
well, and has touched somewhat upon these matters and arranged 
in his mind the rest of what he has to say, it was only right that 
he should continue to the end." 

" Account yourself to be the Count," said my lady Emilia, 
" and say what you think he would say; and thus all will be 
right." 

56.— Then Calmeta said: 

" My Lords, since the hour is late, and in order that messer 

72 



THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Federico may have no excuse for not telling what he knows, I 
think it would be well to postpone the rest of the discussion until 
to-morrow, and let the little time we have left, be spent in some 
other quiet diversion." 

As everyone approved, my lady Duchess desired madonna 
Margarita'" and madonna Costanza Fregosa^to dance. Where- 
upon Barletta,'" a very charming musician and excellent dancer, 
who always kept the whole court in good humour, began to play 
upon his instruments; and joining hands, the two ladies danced 
first a basset and then a roegarae,"' with consummate grace and 
to the great delight of those who saw them. Then the night 
being already far spent, my lady Duchess rose to her feet, and 
so everyone reverently took leave and retired to sleep. 



73 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 
BY COUNT BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE 

TO MESSER ALFONSO ARIOSTO 

I.— I have often considered not without wonder whence arises 
a fault, which, as it is universally found among old people, may 
be believed to be proper and natural to them. And this is, that 
they nearly all praise bygone times and censure the present, 
inveighing against our acts and ways and everything which 
they in their youth did not do; affirming too that every good 
custom and good manner of living, every virtue, in short every 
thing, is always going from bad to worse. 

And verily it seems quite contrary to reason and worthy to be 
wondered at, that ripe age, which in other matters is wont to 
make men's judgment more perfect with long experience, should 
in this matter so corrupt it that they do not perceive that if the 
world were always growing worse, and if fathers were gener- 
ally better than children, we should long since have reached 
that last grade of badness beyond which it is impossible to grow 
worse. And yet we see that not only in our days but in bygone 
times this failing has always been peculiar to old age, which is 
clearly gathered from the works of many ancient authors, and 
especially of the comic writers, who better than the others set 
forth the image of human life. 

Now the cause of this wrong judgment among old people I 
for my part take to be, that the fleeting years despoil them of 
many good things, and among others in great part rob the 
blood of vital spirits; whence the complexion changes, and 
those organs become weak through which the soul exerts its 
powers.'** Thus in old age the sweet flowers of contentment fall 
from our hearts, like leaves from a tree in autumn, and in place 
of serene and sunny thoughts, comes cloudy and turbid sadness 
with its train of thousand ills. So that not the body only but 
the mind also is infirm; of bygone pleasures naught is left but a 

75 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

lingering memory and the image of that precious time of tender 
youth, in which (when it is with us) sky and earth and all things 
seem to us ever making merry and laughing before our eyes, 
and the sweet springtide of happiness seems to blossom in our 
thought, as in a delightful and lovely garden. 

Therefore in the evening chill of life, when our sun begins to 
sink to its setting and steals away those pleasures, we should 
fare better if in losing them, we could lose the memory of them 
also, and as Themistocles said, find an art that shall teach us to 
forget. For so deceitful are our bodily senses, that they often 
cheat even the judgment of our minds. Thus it seems to me 
that old people are in like case with those who keep their eyes 
fixed upon the land as they leave port, and think their ship 
is standing still and the shore recedes, although it is the other 
way. For both the port and also time and its pleasures remain 
the same, and one after another we take flight in the ship of 
mortality upon that boisterous sea which absorbs and devours 
everything, and are never suffered to touch shore again, but 
always tossed by adverse winds we are wrecked upon some 
rock at last. 

Since therefore the senile mind is an unfit subject for many 
pleasures, it cannot enjoy them; and just as to men in fever, 
when the palate is spoiled by corrupt vapours, all wines seem 
bitter, however precious and delicate they be, — so old men, 
because of their infirmity (which yet does not deprive them of 
appetite), find pleasures flat and cold and very different from 
those which they remember tasting of old, although the plea- 
sures are intrinsically the same. Thus they feel themselves de- 
spoiled, and they lament and call the present times bad, not 
perceiving that the change lies in themselves and not in the 
times; and on the other hand they call to mind their bygone 
pleasures, and bring back the time when these were enjoyed 
and praise it as good, because it seems to carry with it a savour 
of what they felt when it was present. For in truth our minds 
hold all things hateful that have been with us in our sorrows, 
and love those that have been with us in our joys. 

This is why it is sometimes highest bliss for a lover to look at 
a window although closed, because he there had once the hap- 

76 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

piness to gaze upon the lady of his love; and in the same way to 
look at a ring, a letter, a garden or other place, or what you 
will, which seems to him a conscious witness of his joys. And 
on the contrary, a gorgeous and beautiful room will often be 
irksome to a man who has been prisoner or has suffered some 
other sorrow there. And I once knew some who would not 
drink from a cup like that from which in illness they had taken 
medicine. For just as to the one the window or ring or letter 
recalls the sweet memory that gives him such delight and seems 
part of his bygone joy, — so to the other, the room or cup brings 
his illness or imprisonment to mind. I believe that the same 
cause leads old people to praise bygone times and to censure 
the present. 

2.— Therefore as they speak of other things, so do they also of 
courts, affirming those which they remember, to have been far 
more excellent and full of eminent men than those which we see 
to-day. And as soon as such discussions are started, they begin 
to extol with boundless praise the courtiers of Duke Filippo or 
Duke Borso;'" and they narrate the sayings of Niccolo Picci- 
nino;™ and they remind us that there were no murders in those 
days (or very few at most), no brawls, no ambushes, no deceits, 
but a certain frank and kindly good will among all men, a loyal 
confidence; and that in the courts of that time such good behav- 
iour and decorum prevailed, that co urtiers • were-all- Uke monks, 
and woe to him who should have spoken insultingly to another, 
or so much as made a less than decorous gesture to a woman. 
And on the other hand they say everything is the reverse in these 
days, and that not only have courtiers lost their fraternal love 
and gentle mode of life, but that nothing prevails in courts but 
envy, malice, immorality and very dissolute living, with every 
sort of vice, — the women lascivious without shame, the men 
effeminate. They condemn our dress also as indecorous and too 
womanish. 

In short they censure an infinity of things, among which many 
indeed merit censure, for it cannot be denied that there are many 
bad and wicked men among us, or that this age of ours is much 
fuller of vice than that which they praise.'" Yet it seems to me 
that they ill discern the cause of this difference, and that they are 

77 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

foolish. For they would have the world contain all good and no 
evil, which is impossible; because, since evil is opposed to good 
and good to evil, it is almost necessary, by force of opposition 
and counterpoise as it were, that the one should sustain and 
fortify the other, and that if either wanes or waxes, so must the 
other also, since there is no contrary without its contrary. 

Who does not know that there would be no justice in the 
world, if there were no wrongs? No courage, if there were no 
cowards? No continence, if there were no incontinence? No 
health, if there were no infirmity? No truth, if there were no 
lying? No good fortune, if there were no misfortunes? Thus, 
according to Plato,'" Socrates well says it is surprising that ^sop 
did not write a fable showing that as God had never beeDuable 
to join pleasure and pain together. He joined them by their ex- 
jtremities, so that the beginning of the one should be the end of 
the other; for we see that no joy can give us pleasure, unless 
sorrow precedes it. Who can hold rest dear, unless he has first 
felt the hardship of fatigue? Who enjoys food, drink and sleep, 
unless he has first endured hunger, thirst and wakefulness? 
Hence I believe that sufferings and diseases were given man by 
nature not chiefly to make him subject to them (since it does not 
seem fitting that she who is mother of every good should give us 
such evils of her own determined purpose), but as nature created 
health, joy and other blessings, — diseases, sorrows and other ills 
followed after them as a consequence. In like manner, the virtues 
having been bestowed upon the world by grace and gift of nature, 
at once by force of that same bounden opposition, the vices became 
their fellows by necessity; so that always as the one waxes or 
wanes, thus likewise must needs the other wax or wane. 

3'— So when our old men praise bygone courts for not contain- 
ing such vicious men as some that our courts contain, they do not 
perceive that their courts did not contain such virtuous men as 
some that ours contain; which is no marvel, for no evil is so bad 
as that which springs from the corrupted seed of good, and hence, 
as nature now puts forth far better wits than she did then, those 
who devote themselves to good, do far better than was formerly 
done, and likewise those who devote themselves to evil, do far 
worse. Therefore we must not on that account say that those 

78 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

who refrained from evil because they did not know how to do 
evil, deserved any praise for it; for although they did little harm, 
they did the worst they could. And that the wits of those times 
were generally inferior to those of our time, can be well enough 
perceived in all that we see of those times, both in letters and in 
pictures, statues, buildings, and every other thing. 

These old men censure us also for many a thing that in it- 
self is neither good nor evil, simply because they did not do 
it. And they say it is not seemly for young men to ride through 
the city on horse, still less in pumps, to wear fur linings or 
long skirts in winter, or to wear a cap before reaching at least 
the age of eighteen years, and the like; wherein they certainly 
are wrong, for besides being convenient and useful, tjieae-xua^ 
toms have been introduced by usage and meet universal fa- 
_vour, just as formerly it was to go about in gala dress with open' 
breeches and polished pumps, and for greater elegance to carry 
a sparrow-hawk on the wrist all day without reason, to dance 
without touching the lady's hand, and to follow many other 
fashions that now would be as very clumsy as they then were 
highly prized. 

Therefore let it be allowed us also to follow the custom of our 
time without being slandered by these old men, who in their 
wish to praise themselves, often say: "When I was twenty 
years old, I still slept with my mother and sisters, nor did I for 
a long time afterwards know what women are; while now, boys 
hardly have hair on their heads before they know more tricks 
than grown men did in our time." Nor do they perceive that in 
saying this they acknowledge that our boys have more mind 
than their old men had. 

Let them cease then to censure our time as full of vices, for in 
removing the vices they would remove the virtues too; and let 
them remember that among the worthies of old, in the ages 
when there lived those spirits who were glorious and truly divine 
in every virtue, and those more than human minds, — there were 
also to be found many very bad men; who (if they were living) 
would be as eminently bad among our bad men, as the good 
men of that time would be eminently good. And of this, all 
history gives ample proof. 

79 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

4-— But I think these old men have now sufficient answer. So 
we will end this homily, perhaps already too diffuse but not 
wholly irrelevant to our subject; and as it is enough for us to 
have shown that the courts of our time were worthy of no less 
praise than those which old men praise so highly, — we will pur- 
sue the discussion about the Courtier, from which we may easily 
understand what rank the court of Urbino held among other 
courts, and of what quality were the Prince and Lady to whom 
such noble spirits did service, and how fortunate they might hold 
themselves who lived in such companionship. 

5-— Now the following day having arrived, there were many and 
diverse discussions among the cavaliers and ladies of the court 
concerning the debate of the evening before; which in great part 
arose because my lord Prefect, eager to know what had been 
said, questioned nearly everyone about it, and (as is always wont 
to be the case) he received different answers; for some praised 
one thing and some another, and among many too there was 
disagreement as to the Count's real opinion, since everyone's 
memory did not quite fully retain the things that were said. 

Thus the matter w^as discussed nearly all day; and as soon as 
night set in, my lord Prefect desired that food be served and took 
all the gentlemen away to supper. When they had done eating, 
he repaired to the room of my lady Duchess, who, on seeing such 
a numerous company and earlier than the custom was, said: 

" Methinks, messer Federico, it is a heavy burden that is 
placed upon your shoulders, and great the expectation you must 
satisfy." 

Then without waiting for messer Federico to reply, the Unico 
Aretino said: 

" And what, forsooth, is this great burden? W^ho is so foolish 
that when he knows how to do a thing, does not do it in proper 
season?" 

So, discoursing of this, everyone sat down in the usual place 
and order, with eager expectation for the debate appointed. 

6.— Then messer Federico turned to the Unico, and said: 

" So, my lord Unico, you do not think that a laborious part 
and a great burden are imposed on me this evening, having to 
show in what way, manner and time the Courtier ought to em- 

8o 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ploy his good accomplishments and practise those things that 
have been said to befit him?" 

"It seems to me no great matter," replied the Unico; "and I 
think it is quite enough to say that the Courtier should have good 
judgment, as the Count last evening rightly said he must; and 
this being so, I think that without other precepts he ought to be 
able to use what he knows seasonably and in a well bred way. 
To try to reduce this to more exact rules would be too difficult 
and perhaps superfluous. For I know no man so stupid as to 
wish to fence when others are intent on dancing; or to go through 
the street dancing a morris-dance, however admirably he might 
know how; or in trying to comfort a mother whose child has 
died, to begin with pleasantries and witticism. Surely me- 
thinks no gentleman would do this, who was not altogether 
a fool." 

Then messer Federico said: 

" It seems to me, my lord Unico, that you run too much to 
extremes. For one may sometimes be silly in a way that is 
not so easily seen, and faults are not always of the same degree: 
and it may be that a man will refrain from public and too patent 
folly, — such as that would be of which you tell, to dance a morris- 
dance about the piazza, — and yet cannot refrain from praising 
himself out of season, from displaying a tiresome conceit, from 
occasionally saying something to cause laughter, which falls 
cold and wholly flat from being said inopportunely. And these 
faults are often covered by a kind of veil that does not suffer 
them to be seen by him who commits them, unless he searches 
for them with care; and although our eyes see little for many 
reasons, they most of all are clouded by conceit, since everyone 
likes to make a show in that wherein he believes himself profi- 
cient, whether his belief be true or false. 

" Therefore it seems to me that the right course in this regard 
lies in a certain prudent and judicious choice, and in discerning 
the more or less which all things gain or lose by being done 
opportunely or out of season. And although the Courtier may 
possess good enough judgment to perceive these distinctions, 
yet I think it would surely be easier for him to attain what he is 
seeking, if we were to broaden his mind by a few precepts, and 
8i 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

show him the way and as it were the foundations upon which 
he must build, — than if he were to follow generalities only. 

7 — " Last evening the Count spoke about Courtiership so fully 
and so beautifully, that he has aroused in me no little fear and 
doubt whether I shall be able to satisfy this noble company so 
well in what I have to say, as he did in what it fell to him 
to say. Yet to make myself a sharer in his fame as far as I can, 
and to be sure of avoiding this one mistake at least, I shall con- 
tradict him in nothing. 

"Accepting his opinions then, and among others his opinion 
as to the Courtier's noble birth, capacities, bodily form and 
grace of feature, — I say that to win praise justly and good 
opinion from everyone and favour from the princes whom he 
serves, I deem it necessary for the Courtier to know how to dis- 
pose his whole life, and to make the most of his good qualities 
in intercourse with all men everywhere, without exciting envy 
thereby. And how difficult this in itself is, we may infer from 
the fewness of those who are seen to reach the goal; for by 
nature we all are more ready to censure mistakes than to praise 
things well done, and many men, from a kind of innate malignity 
and although they clearly see the good, seem to strive with 
every effort and pains to find either some hidden fault in us or 
at least some semblance of fault. 

" Thus it is needful for our Courtier to be cautious in his every 
action, and always to mingle good sense with what he says or 
does. And let him not only take care that his separate parts 
and qualities are excellent, but let him order the tenour of his 
life in such fashion, that the whole may be in keeping with 
these parts and be seen to be always and in everything ac- 
cordant with his own self and form one single body of all these 
good qualities; so that his every act may be the result and 
compound of all his faculties, as the Stoics say is the duty of 
him who is wise. 

" Still, although in every action one faculty is always chief, 
yet all are so enlinked together, that they make for one end and 
may all further and serve every purpose. Hence he must know 
how to make the most of them, and by means of contrast and as 
it were foil to the one, he must make the other more clearly 

82 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

seen; — like good painters, who display and show forth the lights 
of projecting objects by the use of shadow, and likewise deepen 
the shadows of flat objects by means of light, and so assemble 
their divers colours that both the one and the other are better 
displayed by reason of that diversity, and the placing of figures 
in opposition one to another aids them to perform that office 
which is the painter's aim. 

" Thus gentleness is very admirable in a man of noble birth 
who is valiant and strong. And as his boldness seems greater 
when accompanied by modesty, so his modesty is enhanced and 
set off by his boldness.'" Hence to speak little, to do much, and 
not to boast of praiseworthy deeds but to conceal them tact- 
fully, — enhances both these attributes in the case of one who 
knows how to employ this method with discretion; and so it is 
with all other good qualities. 

" Therefore in what our Courtier does or says I would have 
him follow a few universal rules, which I think comprise briefly 
all that I have to say. And for the first and most important let 
him above all avoid aff"ectation, as the Count rightly advised last 
evening. Next let him consider well what thing it is that he is 
doing or saying, the place where he is doing it, in whose pres- 
ence, the cause that impels him, his age, his profession, the 
object he has in view, and the means that may conduce thereto; 
and so, with these precautions let him apply himself discreetly 
to whatever he has a mind to do or say." 

8.— After messer Federico had spoken thus, he seemed to pause 
a little. Whereupon my lord Morello da Ortona at once said: 

"These rules of yours teach little, it seems to me; and for my 
part I know as much about it now, as I did before you pro- 
pounded them. Still I remember having heard them several 
times before also from the friars to whom I made confession, and 
who called them * the circumstances,' I think." 

Then messer Federico laughed and said: 

" If you remember rightly, the Count declared last evening 
that the Courtier's chief business should be that of arms, and 
spoke at length about the way in which he ought to practise it; 
therefore we will not repeat this. Yet among our rules we may 
also lay it down that when our Courtier finds himself in a skir- 

83 "^ " 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

mish or action or battle, or in other such affairs, he ought to ar- 
range discreetly to withdraw from the crowd, and to perform 
^hose glorious and brave deeds that he has to do, with as little 
company as he can, and in sight of all the noblest and most 
respected men in the army, and especially in the presence and 
Tif it is possible) before the very eyes of his king or of the prince 
whom he serves; for in truth it is very proper to make the most 
of one's good deeds. And I think that just as it is wrong to seek 
"Jalse and unmerited renown, so it is wrong also to defraud one- 
self of the honour that is one's due, and not to seek that praise 
which alone is the true reward of worthy effort. 

"And I remember having in my time known some men who 
were very stupid in this regard, although valiant, and who put 
their lives as much in danger to capture a flock of sheep, as 
to be the first to scale the walls of a beleaguered town; which 
our Courtier will not do if he bears in mind the motive that 
leads him into war, which should be honour only. And again 
if he happens to be playing at arms in public shows, — such as 
jousts, tourneys, stick-throwing, or any other bodily exercise, 
— mindful of the place and presence in which he is, he will con- 
trive to be not less elegant and graceful than unerring with his 
weapons, and to feast the spectators' eyes with all those things 
which he thinks may give him an added grace. He will take 
care that his horse is bravely caparisoned, that his attire be- 
comes him, that his mottoes are appropriate and his devices 
clever, so that they may attract the eyes of the bystanders as 
the loadstone attracts iron. He will never be among the last 
to show themselves, knowing that the crowd and especially 
women gaze much more attentively upon the first than upon 
the last; for their eyes and minds, which at the start are eager 
for novelty and observe and are impressed by every trifle, are 
afterwards not only sated by repetition but even grow weary. 
Thus there was an excellent actor of ancient times, who for 
this reason always wished to be the first to perform his part 
in the play. 

" So too, even in speaking of arms, our Courtier will have 
regard to the profession of those with whom he converses, and 
will govern himself accordingly, — speaking in one way with men 

84 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

and in another way with women. And if he wishes to touch 
on something that is to his credit, he will do so covertly, as if 
by chance in passing, and with the discreetness and caution that 
Count Ludovico expounded to us yesterday. 

9.—" Does it not seem to you now, my lord Morello, that our 
rules may teach something? Does it not seem to you that our 
friend, of whom I was telling you a few days since, quite forgot 
with whom and why he was speaking, when to entertain a lady 
he had never seen before, he began his talk by telling her that 
he had slain so many men, and that he was a terrible fellow 
and knew how to handle a sword with both hands? Nor did 
he leave her until he had tried to explain to her how certain 
blows of the battle-axe ought to be parried when one is armed 
and how when unarmed, and to show the different ways of 
grasping the handle; so that the poor soul was on the rack, and 
thought the hour seemed a thousand years before she could send 
him off, almost fearing that he would slay her like the others. Such 
are the mistakes committed by those who pay no regard to the 
'circumstances,' of which you say you heard from the friars. 

"Next I say that of bodily exercises there are some that 
are almost never practised except in public, — such as jousts, 
tourneys, stick-throwing, and all the rest that have to do with 
arms. Hence when our Courtier has to take part in these, 
he must first contrive to be so well equipped in point of horses, 
weapons and dress, that he lacks nothing. And if he does not 
feel himself well provided with everything, let him on no account 
engage, for if he fails to do well, the excuse cannot be made that 
these things are not his business. Then he must carefully con- 
sider in whose presence he is seen and of what sort the company 
is, for it would not be seemly for a gentleman to honour a rustic 
festival with his presence, where the spectators and the company 
are of low degree." 

10.— Then my lord Gaspar Pallavicino said: 

" In our Lombard country we do not make these distinctions. 
On the contrary, there are many young gentlemen who dance 
all day with peasants in the sun on holidays, and play with them 
at throwing the bar, wrestling, running and leaping. And I do 
not think it amiss, for there the rivalry is not of birth, but of 

85 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

strength and agility, wherein villagers are often quite a match 
for nobles; and this condescension seems to have in it a pleasant 
touch of generosity." 

Messer Federico replied: 

"This dancing of yours in the sun pleases me not in any way, 
nor do I see what gain there is in it. But in my opinion who- 
ever cares to wrestle or run or leap with peasants, ought to do 
so as a matter of practice and out of courtesy as we say, not in 
rivalry with them. And a man ought to be almost sure of win- 
ning; else let him not engage, because it is too unseemly and 
shameful a thing, and beneath his dignity, to see a gentleman 
vanquished by a peasant, and especially at wrestling. Hence I 
think it is well to abstain, at least in the presence of many, for 
the gain of beating is very small and the loss of being beaten is 
very great. 

" The game of tennis also is nearly always played in public, 
and is one of those sports to which a crowd lends much distinc- 
tion. Therefore I would have our Courtier practise this, and all 
the others except the handling of arms, as something that is not 
his profession, and let him show that he does not seek or expect 
praise for it, nor let him seem to devote much care or time to it, 
although he may do it admirably. Nor let him be like some 
men who delight in music, and in speaking with anyone always 
begin to sing under their breath whenever there is a pause in the 
conversation. Others always go dancing as they pass through 
streets and churches. Others, when they meet a friend in the 
piazza or anywhere else, at once put themselves in posture as if 
for fencing or wrestling, according to their favourite humour." 

Here messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" A young cardinal we have in Rome does better than that; for 
out of pride in his fine bodily frame, he conducts into his garden 
all who come to visit him (even although he has never seen 
them before), and urgently presses them to strip to the doublet 
and try a turn with him at leaping." 

II.— Messer Federico laughed; then he went on: 

" There are certain other exercises that can be practised in 
public and in private, like dancing; and in this I think the 
Courtier ought to have a care, for when dancing in the presence 

86 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of many and in a place full of people, it seems to me that he 
should preserve a certain dignity, albeit tempered with a lithe 
and airy grace of movement; and although he may feel himself 
to be very nimble and a master of time and measure, let him not 
attempt those agilities of foot and double steps which we find 
very becoming in our friend Barletta, but which perhaps would 
be little suited to a gentleman. Yet in a room privately, as we 
are now, I think he may try both, and may dance morris-dances 
and brawls;"* but not in public unless he be masked, when it is 
not displeasing even though he be recognized by all, 

" Indeed there is no better way of displaying oneself in such 
matters at public sports, either armed or unarmed; because dis- 
guise carries with it a certain freedom and licence, which 
among other things enable a man to choose a part for which he 
feels himself qualified, and to use care and elaboration upon the 
chief point of the thing wherein he would display himself, and a 
certain nonchalance as to that which does not count, — which 
greatly enhances the charm: as for a youth to array himself 
like an old man, yet in easy dress so as to be able to show his 
vigour; a cavalier in the guise of a rustic shepherd or some 
other like costume, but with a perfect horse and gracefully be- 
decked in character; — because the mind of the spectators is 
quick to fill out the image of that which is presented to the eyes 
at first glance; and then seeing the thing turn out much better 
than the costume promised, they are amused and delighted. 

" But in these sports and shows where masks are worn, it would 
not be seemly for a prince to try to enact the part of a prince, be- 
cause that pleasure which the spectators find in novelty would be 
in great measure lacking, since it is news to no one that the prince 
is the prince; and he, conscious that besides being the prince he 
is trying to play the prince, loses the freedom to do all those 
things that are beneath a prince's dignity. And if there were 
any contest in these sports, especially with arms, he might even 
make men think that he chose to impersonate a prince in order 
not to be beaten but spared by others; moreover were he to do 
in sport the same that it behooves him to do in earnest upon oc- 
casion, he would deprive his own proper action of dignity, and 
make it almost seem as if that too were sport. But at such 

87 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

times, if the prince lays aside his character of prince, and mingles 
equally with his inferiors yet in such fashion as to be recogniz- 
able, by renouncing his own rank he attains a higher one, in that 
he prefers to excel the rest not by authority but by merit, and to 
show that his worth is not enhanced by the fact that he is a 
prince. 

12.—" I say then that in these martial sports the Courtier ought 
to use the like discretion, according to his rank. In horseback 
vaulting too, in wrestling, running and leaping, I should be well 
pleased to have him shun the vulgar crowd, or at most let him- 
self be very rarely seen; for there is not on earth a thing so ex- 
cellent but the ignorant will tire of it and hold it of small account, 
if they see it often. 

"As to music I hold the same opinion: hence I would not 
have our Courtier behave like many, who are no sooner come 
anywhere (even into the presence of gentlemen w^ith whom they 
have no acquaintance), than without waiting to be urged they 
set about doing what they know and often what they do not 
know; so that it seems as if they had come only for the purpose 
of showing themselves, and had that for their chief profession. 
Therefore let the Courtier resort to music as a pastime and almost 
unwillingly, and not before vulgar people nor very many. And 
although he may know and understand that which he is doing, 
in this too I would have him hide the study and pains that are 
necessary in everything one would do well, and seem to value 
this accomplishment lightly in himself, but by practising it 
admirably make others value it highly." 

13 — Then my lord Caspar Pallavicino said: 

" There are many kinds of music, vocal as well as instrumen- 
tal: therefore I should like to hear which is the best of all, and 
at what time the Courtier ought to perform it.'"** 

Messer Federico replied: 

" I regard as beautiful music, to sing well by note, with ease 
and in beautiful style; but as even far more beautiful, to sing to 
the accompaniment of the viol,"* because nearly all the sweet- 
ness lies in the solo part, and we note and observe the fine 
manner and the melody with much greater attention when our 
ears are not occupied with more than a single voice, and more- 

88 



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BLISABET DE GONZAGA FELTRIA 
" My Lady Duchess " 



EMILIA 
'My Lady Emilia" 



MARGARITA DE GONZAGA 
" Madonna Margarita" 



FRANCO M* 
"My Lord Prefect" 



JULIANO DE MEDICI 
" My Lord Magnifico " 



AUTOGRAPH SIGNATURES OF INTERLOCUTORS 

From negatives, made by Premi and by Signer Lanzoni, from originals preserved in the 
Royal State Archives at Mantua and selected by the Director, Signer Alessandro 
Lusio. 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

over every little fault is more clearly discerned, — which is not 
the case when several sing together, because each singer helps 
his neighbour. But above all, singing to the viol by way of 
recitative seems to me most delightful, which adds to the words 
a charm and grace that are very admirable, 

" All keyed instruments also are pleasing to the ear, because 
they produce very perfect consonances, and upon them one can 
play many things that fill the mind with musical delight. And 
not less charming is the music of the stringed quartet, which is 
most sweet and exquisite. The human voice lends much orna- 
ment and grace to all these instruments, with which I would 
have our Courtier at least to some degree acquainted, albeit the 
more he excels with them, the better, — without troubling himself 
much with those that Minerva forbade to Alcibiades, because it 
seems that they are ungraceful."' 

" Then, as to the time for enjoying these various kinds of 
music, I think it is whenever a man finds himself in familiar and 
beloved companionship and there are not other occupations. 
But above all it is fitting where ladies are present, because their 
aspect fills the listener's heart with sweetness, renders it more 
sensitive to the tenderness of the music, and quickens the mu- 
sician's soul. 

"As I have already said, it pleases me well that we should 
avoid the crowd, and especially the ignoble crowd. But discre- 
tion must needs be the spice of everything, for it would be quite 
impossible to foresee all the cases that occur; and if the Cour- 
tier rightly understands himself, he will adapt himself to the 
occasion and will perceive when the minds of his hearers are 
disposed to listen and when not. He will take his own age into 
account: for it is indeed unseemly and unlovely in the extreme 
to see a man of any quality, — old, hoary and toothless, full of 
wrinkles, — playing on a viol and singing in the midst of a com- 
pany of ladies, even though he be a passable performer. And 
the reason of this is that in singing the words are usually amour- 
ous, and love is a ridiculous thing in old men, — albeit it is some- 
times pleased among its other miracles to kindle frozen hearts 
in spite of years." 

I4-— Then the Magnifico replied: 
89 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

"Do not deprive old men of this pleasure, messer Federico; 
for in my time I have known old men who had right perfect 
voices and hands very dexterous upon their instruments, far 
more than some young men." 

" I do not wish," said messer Federico, " to deprive old men of 
this pleasure, but I do wish to deprive you and these ladies of 
the pleasure of laughing at such folly. And if old men wish to 
sing to the viol, let them do so in secret and only to drive from 
their minds those painful thoughts and grievous troubles with 
which our life is filled, and to taste that rapture which I believe 
Pythagoras and Socrates found in music. "^ And even although 
they practise it not, by somewhat accustoming their minds to it 
they will enjoy it far more when they hear it than a man who 
knows nothing of it. For just as the arms of a smith, who is 
weak in his other members, become stronger by exercise than 
those of another man who is more robust but unaccustomed to 
use his arms, — in like manner ears practised in harmony will 
perceive it better and more speedily and will appreciate it with 
far greater pleasure, than others, however good and sharp they 
be, that are not versed in the varieties of musical consonance; 
because these modulations do not penetrate ears unused to 
hearing them, but pass aside without leaving any savour of 
themselves; albeit even the beasts have some enjoyment in 
melody. 

" This then is the pleasure it is fitting old men should take in 
music. I say the like of dancing, for in truth we ought to give 
up these exercises before our age forces us to give them up 
against our will." 

Here my lord Morello replied with a little heat: 

" So it is better to exclude all old men, and to say that only 
young men have a right to be called Courtiers." 

Then messer Federico laughed, and said: 

" You see, my lord Morello, that they who like these things 
strive to seem young when they are not, and hence they dye 
their hair and shave twice a week."" And this is because nature 
silently tells them that such things are proper only to the 
young." 

All the ladies laughed, for each one of them felt that these 

go 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

words fitted my lord Morello; and he seemed rather stung by 
them. Messer Federico soon continued: 

15.—" But there are many other ways of entertaining ladies 
that are proper to old men." 

«' What are they?" said my lord Morello. "Telling stories?" 

" That is one," replied messer Federico. " But as you know, 
every age brings, its own thoughts with it, and has some peculiar 
virtue and some peculiar vice. Thus, while old men are ordina- 
rily more prudent than young men, more continent and wiser, 
so too they are more garrulous, miserly, querulous and timid; 
they are always scolding about the house, harsh to their chil- 
dren, and wish everyone to follow their way. And on the con- 
trary young men are spirited, generous, frank, but prone to 
quarrel, voluble, loving and hating in an instant, eager in all 
their pleasures, unfriendly to him who counsels well. 

" But of all ages, that of manhood is the most temperate, 
because it has left the faults of youth behind and has not yet 
reached those of old age. Being placed then at the two ex- 
tremes, young and old must needs learn from reason how to cor- 
rect the faults that nature implants in them. Thus, old men 
ought to guard against much self-praise and the other evil 
habits that we have said are peculiar to them, and to use that 
prudence and knowledge which they have gained from long 
experience, and to be like oracles consulted of all men; and in 
telling what they know, they ought to have the grace to speak 
to the point and temper the gravity of their years with a certain 
mild and sportive humour. In this way they will be good Cour- 
tiers, enjoy their intercourse with men and with ladies, and be 
always welcome, — without singing or dancing; and when need 
arises they will display their worth in affairs of importance. 

16.—" Let young men use this same care and judgment, not in- 
deed in copying old men's ways, — for that which befits the one 
would not at all befit the other, and we are wont to say that 
over wisdom is a bad sign in the young, — ^but in correcting their 
own natural faults. Hence I greatly like to see a youth, and 
especially when handling weapons, who has a touch of the 
grave and taciturn; who is master of himself, without those rest- 
less manners which are often seen at that age; because such 

91 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

youths seem to have a certain something in them above the rest. 
Moreover this quietness of manner has in it a kind of impressive 
boldness, because it seems the result not of anger but of judg- 
ment, and governed more by reason than by passion. This 
is nearly always found in all men of high courage, and we see it 
also among those brute animals that have more nobility and 
strength than their fellows, — as in the lion and the eagle. 

" Nor is this strange; for an impetuous and sudden movement, 
— which without words or other signs of wrath abruptly bursts 
with all its force at once from the quiet that is its contrary, as it 
were like the discharge of a cannon,— is far more violent and 
furious than that which increases by degrees and grows hotter 
little by little. Therefore they who talk much and move about 
and cannot stand still, when they have an enterprise on foot, 
seem thus to exhaust their powers; and as our friend messer Pietro 
Monte well says, they act like boys who sing from fear when they 
walk at night, as if to keep up their courage by their singing. 

"Again, just as calm and thoughtful youthfulness is very 
praiseworthy in a young man, because the levity which is the 
fault peculiar to his age seems to be tempered and corrected, — 
so in an old man a green and lively old age is to be highly 
esteemed, because his stoutness of heart seems to be so great as 
to warm and strengthen his feeble and chill years, and to keep 
him in that middle state which is the best part of our life. 

17 — " But in brief not even all these qualities in our Courtier 
will suffice to win universal favour of lords, cavaliers and ladies, 
unless he has also a gentle and amiable manner in daily talk. 
And I verily believe it to be difficult to give any rule for this, 
because of the infinite variety of things that arise in conversa- 
tion, and because among all the men on earth no two are found 
who have minds quite alike. So whoever has to prepare him- 
self for conversation with many, must needs be guided by his 
own judgment, and distinguishing the differences between one 
man and another, must daily change his style and method 
according to the character of the person with whom he has to 
converse. Nor could I for my part give other rules in this 
matter than those already given, which our friend my lord 
Morello has learned at the confessional from his youth up." 

92 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Here my lady Emilia laughed, and said: 

" You shirk labour too much, messer Federico, But you 
shall not succeed, for you must talk on until it is time to go to 
bed." 

"And what, my Lady, if I have nothing to say?" replied 
messer Federico. 

" There you shall show your wit," said my lady Emilia. "And 
if what I once heard be true, that there was a man so clever and 
eloquent that he did not lack material to write a book in praise 
of a fly, others in praise of the fourth day ague, and another in 
praise of baldness, — will you also not have the courage to find 
something to say about Courtiership for one evening?""" 

" We have already said enough about it to make two books," 
replied messer Federico. " But since my excuse is of no avail, I 
w^ill talk until you think I have fulfilled, if not my duty, at least 
the limit of my powers. 

i8.— "I think that the conversation which the Courtier ought 
most to try in every way to make acceptable, is that which he 
holds with his prince; and although this word 'conversation' 
implies a certain equality that seems impossible between a lord 
and his inferior, yet we will call it so for the present. Therefore, 
besides daily showing everyone that he possesses the worth we 
have already described, I would have the Courtier strive, with 

iall the thoughts and forces of his mind, to love and almost to 
adore the prince whom he serves, above every other thing, and 
mould his wishes, habits and all his ways to his prince's liking." 

Without waiting for more, Pietro da Napoli here said: 

"We already have enough Courtiers of this kind, for methinks 
you have in a few words described for us a noble flatterer." 

"You are much in errour," replied messer Federico; "for 
flatterers love neither their prince nor their friends, which I tell 
you I wish chiefly in our Courtier. 

"Moreover it is possible without flattery to obey and further 
the wishes of him we serve, for I am speaking of those wishes 
that are reasonable and right, or of those that in themselves are 
neither good nor evil, such as would be a liking for play or a de- 
votion to one kind of exercise above another. And I would have 
the Courtier bend himself to this even if he be by nature alien to it,. 

93 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

so that on seeing him his lord shall always feel that he will have 
something agreeable to say; which will come about if he has the 
good judgment to perceive what his prince likes, and the wit and 
prudence to bend himself thereto, and a deliberate purpose to 
like that which perhaps he by nature dislikes. And adopting 
these precautions, he will never be out of humour or melancholy 
before his prince, nor so taciturn as many are who seem to bear 
a grudge against their patrons, which is a truly odious thing. 
He will not be given to evil speaking, especially against his 
own lords; which often happens, for in courts there seems to 
rage a fury'" of such sort that those who have been most fa- 
voured by their lord and have been raised to eminence from 
the lowest state, are always complaining and speaking ill of 
him; which is unseemly not only in such as these, but even in 
those who chance to have been ill used, 

"Our Courtier will show no foolish presumption; he will not 
be a bearer of evil tidings; he will not be thoughtless in some- 
times saying things that offend instead of pleasing as he intends. 
He will not be obstinate and disputatious, as some are who 
seem to delight in nothing but to be troublesome and disagreeable 
like flies, and who make a point of spitefully contradicting every- 
one without discrimination. He will not be an idle or untruth- 
ful tattler, nor a boaster nor pointless flatterer, but modest and 
reserved, always and especially in public showing that reverence 
and respect which befit the servant towards the master; and he 
will not behave like many, who on meeting any great prince, 
with whom if only they have spoken but once, press forward 
with a certain smiling and friendly look, as if they "wished to 
caress an equal or show favour to an inferior. 

" He will very rarely or almost never ask anything of his lord 
for himself, lest his lord, being reluctant to deny it to him 
directly, may sometimes grant it with an ill grace, which is 
much worse. Even in asking for others he will choose his time 
discreetly and ask proper and reasonable things; and he will so 
frame his request, by omitting what he knows may displease and 
by skilfully doing away with difficulties, that his lord shall al- 
ways grant it, or shall not think him offended by refusal even if 
it be denied; for when lords have denied a favour to an importu- 

94 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

nate suitor, they often reflect that he who asked it with such 
eagerness, must have desired it greatly, and so having failed to 
obtain it, must feel ill will towards him who denied it; and be- 
lieving this, they begin to hate the man and can never more look 
upon him with favour. 

ig-— " He will not seek to intrude unasked into his master's 
chamber or private retreats, even though he be of great conse- 
quence; for when great lords are in private, they often like a 
little liberty to say and do what they please, and do not wish to 
be seen or heard by any who may criticise them; and it is very 
proper. Hence I think those men do ill who blame great lords 
for consorting privately with persons who are of little worth 
save in matters of personal service, for I do not see why lords 
should not have the same freedom to relax their minds that we 
fain would have to relax ours. But if a Courtier accustomed to 
deal with important matters, chances to find himself in private 
with his lord, he must put on another face, postpone grave con- 
cerns to another place and time, and give the conversation a 
cast that shall amuse and please his lord, so as not to disturb 
that repose of mind of which I speak. 

" In this however, as in everything else, let him above all take 
care not to weary his lord, and let him wait for favours to be 
offered him rather than angle for them so openly as many do, 
who are so greedy that it seems as if they must die if they do not 
get what they seek; and if they happen to meet any disfavour 
or to see others favoured, they suffer such anguish that they can 
in no wise hide their envy. Thus they make everyone laugh at 
them, and often are the cause that leads their master to bestow 
favour on the first comer simply to spite them. Then again, if 
they find themselves in at all more than common favour, they 
become so intoxicated by it that they stand palsied'"' with joy, 
and seem not to know what to do with their hands and feet, and 
they can hardly keep from calling on the company to come and 
see and congratulate them as upon something to which they are 
quite unused. 

" Of such sort I would not have our Courtier. I am quite 
willing that he should like favours, but not that he should value 
them so highly as to seem unable to do without them. And 

95 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

when he receives them, let him not seem unused or strange to 
them, or marvel that they are offered him; nor let him refuse 
them, as some do who refrain from accepting them out of mere 
ignorance, and thus seem to the bystanders to be conscious of 
not deserving them. 

" Yet a man ought always to be a little more backward than 
his rank warrants; to accept not too readily the favours and hon- 
ours that are offered him; and to refuse them modestly, showing 
that he values them highly, yet in such fashion as to give the 
donor cause to offer them again with far more urgency. For 
the greater the reluctance with which they are accepted, the 
more highly will the prince who gives them think himself es- 
teemed, and the benefit that he bestows will seem the greater, 
the more the recipient seems to prize it and to hold himself hon- 
oured by it. Moreover these are the true and solid favours that 
make a man esteemed by those who see him from without ; for, 
being unsought, they are assumed by everyone to be the reward 
of true worth, the more so when they are accompanied by 
modesty." 

20 — Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

"Methinks you have stolen this passage from the Evangelist, 
where he says: 'When thou art bidden to a wedding, go and sit 
down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee com- 
eth, he may say: Friend, go up higher: and thus shalt thou 
have honour in the presence of them that sit at meat with 
thee.'""" 

Messer Federico laughed, and said: 

"It were too great sacrilege to steal from the Evangelist; but 
you are more learned in Holy Writ than I thought;" then he 
went on: "You see what great danger those men sometimes run 
who boldly begin conversation before a lord without being in- 
vited; and to put them down, the lord often makes no reply and 
turns his head another way, and even if he replies to them, 
everyone sees that he does it with an ill grace. 

"To have the favour of princes, then, there is no better way 
than to deserve it. And when we see another man who is 
pleasing to a prince for any reason, we must not think to reach 
the same height ourselves by imitating him, for all things are 

96 



BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE 



CESAR DE GONZAGA 



LUDOVICO CANOSSA 



PIETRO BEMBO 



BERNARDO DE BIBBIENA 



AUTOGRAPH SIGNATURES OF THE AUTHOR AND OF 
FOUR OF HIS FRIENDS 

Prom negatives, made by Premi and by Signor Lantoni, from originals preserved in the 
Royal State Archives at Mantua and selected by the Director, Signor Alessandro 
Luzio. 



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THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

not proper to all men. Thus there will sometimes be found a 
man who by nature is so ready at jesting that whatever he may 
say carries laughter with it, and he seems to have been born 
solely for that; and if another man, who has a sober habit of 
mind (however excellently endowed) tries to do the like, it will 
fall so cold and flat as to disgust those who hear him, and he 
will prove exactly like that ass who tried to copy the dog by 
frolicking with their master."* Hence every man must under- 
stand himself and his own powers, and govern himself accord- 
ingly, and consider what things he ought to imitate, and what 
things he ought not." 

21.— Here Vincenzo Calmeta said: 

" Before you go on, if I heard aright I think you said awhile 
ago that the best way to win favours is to deserve them, and 
that the Courtier ought to wait for them to be offered him 
rather than ask for them presumptuously. I greatly fear this 
rule is little to the purpose, and I think experience very clearly 
teaches us the contrary. For to-day very few are favoured by 
their lords, save the presumptuous; and I know you can give 
good testimony as to some, who on finding themselves in small 
favour with their princes, have made themselves acceptable solely 
by their presumption. While as for those who have risen 
through modesty, I for my part do not know any, and I even 
give you time to think about it and believe you will find few. 
And if you consider the court of France, which is to-day one of, 
the noblest in Christendom, you will find that all men who have 
universal favour there are somewhat presumptuous, and not only 
towards one another but towards the king himself." 

"•Now do not say that," replied messer Federico ; •' for in France 
there are very modest and courteous gentlemen. It is true that 
they behave with a certain freedom and unceremonious famili- 
arity, which are proper and natural to them; and therefore it 
ought not to be called presumption, because in this very man- 
ner of theirs, whilst they deride and make sport of the pre- 
sumptuous, yet they rate highly those who seem to them to 
have worth and modesty." 

Calmeta replied: 

" Look at the Spaniards, who it seems are our masters in 

97 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Courtiership, and consider how many you will find who are 
not very presumptuous with ladies and with gentlemen; and 
even more so than the French, because at first sight they show 
the greatest modesty. And in this they are truly clever, for as I 
said, the princes of our time all favour only those who have such 
manners." 

22.— Then messer Federico replied: 

" I will by no means suffer you, messer Vincenzo, to cast this 
reproach upon the princes of our time. For indeed there are 
also many who love modesty, which I do not however say alone 
suffices to make a man acceptable; but I do say that when 
united to high worth, it greatly honours its possessor. And al- 
though it be silent about itself, praiseworthy deeds speak aloud 
and are far more admirable than if they were accompanied by 
presumption and rashness. I will not indeed deny that there are 
many presumptuous Spaniards, but I say that those who are 
much esteemed are as a rule very modest. 

" Again, there are also some men who are so reserved that 
they shun human company beyond reason, and so far exceed a 
certain limit of moderation that they come to be regarded as 
either too timid or too proud. For these I have no praise, nor 
would I have modesty so dry and arid as to become clownish- 
ness; but let the Courtier be fluent on occasion, and prudent and 
sagacious in discussing statecraft, and let him have the good 
sense to adapt himself to the customs of the nations where he 
finds himself; then in lesser matters let him be agreeable and 
speak well about everything. 

"But above all, he should make for right; not envious, not 
evil-tongued: nor let him ever bring himself to seek grace or fa- 
vour by foul ways or dishonourable means." 

Then Calmeta said: 

" I assure you that all other ways are more uncertain and 
longer than this one which you censure. For to repeat, princes 
at the present day love only those who tread that path." 

" Say not so," then replied messer Federico, " for that would 
be too clear an argument that the princes of our time are all 
vicious and wicked, — which is not true, since several good ones 
are to be found. But if our Courtier should chance to find him- 

98 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

self in the service of one who is vicious and malign, let him 
depart as soon as he discovers it, lest he suffer that keen anguish 
which all good men feel who serve the wicked," 

" We must needs pray God," replied Calmeta, " to send us 
good masters, for when we have them, we are forced to endure 
them such as they are; because an infinity of reasons constrain 
a gentleman not to leave the patron he has once begun to serve; 
but the misfortune consists in beginning to serve a bad patron, 
and Courtiers in this condition are like those unhappy birds that 
are hatched in a gloomy valley." 

" It seems to me," said messer Federico, "that duty ought to 
outweigh all other reasons. And provided a gentleman does not 
leave his patron when at war or in adversity, — lest he be 
thought to have done so to better his fortunes or because he 
feared that he might lack opportunity for gain, — I think that at 
any other time he rightly may and ought to leave a service that 
is like to disgrace him before all good men; for everyone as- 
sumes that whoever serves the good is good, and that whoever 
serves the wicked is wicked." 

23 — Then my lord Ludovico Pio said: 

" I should like to have you clear a doubt that is in my mind; 
that is, whether a gentleman in the service of a prince is bound 
to obey him in all things that he commands, even if they be dis- 
honourable and infamous." 

" In dishonourable things we are not bound to obey any man," 
replied messer Federico. 

" And how," returned my lord Ludovico, " if I am in the ser- 
vice of a prince who uses me well and trusts to my doing for 
him all that can be done, commanding me to go kill a man or do 
anything else you please, — ought I to refuse to do it?" 

" You ought," replied messer Federico, " to obey your lord in 
all things that are advantageous and honourable to him, not in 
those that bring him injury and disgrace. Therefore if he were 
to command you to commit an act of treachery, not only would 
you not be bound to do it, but you would be bound not to do it, — 
both for your own sake and for the sake of not being a minister 
to your lord's disgrace. True it is that many things which are 
evil seem at first sight good, and many seem evil and yet are 

99 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

good. Hence in our lords' service it is sometimes permitted to 
kill not one man but ten thousand, and to do many other things 
that would seem evil to a man who did not rightly consider 
them, and yet are not evil." 

Then my lord Caspar Pallavicino replied: 

" On your faith, I pray you discuss this a little, and teach us 
how the really good can be distinguished from that which only 
seems so." 

" Pardon me," said messer Federico; " I am unwilling to enter 
upon that, for there would be too much to say; but let the whole 
matter be left to your own wisdom." 

24.—" At least clear another doubt for me," returned my lord 
Caspar. 

" And what doubt?" said messer Federico. 

" It is this," replied my lord Caspar. " I should like to know, — 
my lord having charged me exactly what I must do in an enter- 
prise or any other business whatever, if I being engaged upon it 
think that my doing more or less or otherwise than I was 
charged, may make the affair turn out better and more advan- 
tageously for him who gave me the task, — whether I ought to 
govern myself by the original plan without exceeding the limits 
of my command, or on the contrary to do that which seems to 
me better." 

Then messer Federico replied: 

" In this I should give you the precept and example of Man- 
lius Torquatus (who in like case slew his son, from too stern a 
sense of duty), if I thought he deserved much credit, which I do 
not.'" And yet I dare not blame him against the verdict of so 
many centuries. For without doubt it is a very perilous thing 
to deviate from our superiors' commands, relying more on our 
own judgment than on theirs whom we ought in reason to obey; 
because if our expectation fails and the affair turns out ill, we 
run into the errour of disobedience and ruin that which we have 
to. do, without any possibility of excuse or hope of pardon. On 
the other hand, if the affair turns out according to our wish, we 
must give the credit to fortune and be content at that. More- 
over in this way a fashion is set of rating the commands of our 
superiors lightly; and following the example of one man who 

100 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

happened to succeed and who perhaps was prudent and had 
reasoned well and been aided by fortune too, — a thousand other 
ignorant featherheads will make bold to do as they please in the 
most important matters, and for the sake of showing that they 
are sagacious and have authority, to deviate from their masters' 
commands; which is a very evil thing and often the cause of 
numberless mistakes. 

" But I think that in such a case the man whom it concerns 
ought to consider carefully, and as it were to place in the balance 
the profit and advantage that he stands to win by acting contrary 
to orders, in case his design turns out according to his hopes; 
and on the other hand to weigh the evil and disadvantage that 
will accrue if the affair chances to turn out ill through his dis- 
obedience of orders. And if he finds the damage in case of 
failure to be greater and more serious than the gain in case of 
success, he ought to restrain himself and carry out his orders to 
the letter; while on the contrary if the gain in case of success is 
like to be more serious than the damage in case of failure, I 
think he may properly venture to do that which his reason and 
judgment dictate, and somewhat disregard the very letter of his 
orders, — so as to act like good merchants, who to gain much 
risk little, but never risk much to gain little. 

" I strongly approve of the Courtier's observing above all the 
character of the prince whom he serves, and of his governing 
himself accordingly: for if it be severe, as is the case with many, 
I should never advise anyone who was my friend to change one 
jot the order given him; lest that might befall him which is re- 
corded as having befallen a master engineer of the Athenians, to 
whom Publius Crassus Mucianus,"^ when he was in Asia and 
wished to besiege a fortified place, sent to ask for one of two 
ship's masts that he had seen at Athens, in order to make a ram 
wherewith to batter down the wall, and said he wished the 
larger one. Being very intelligent, the engineer knew that the 
larger mast was unsuitable for the purpose, and as the smaller 
one was easier to transport and better adapted for making the 
machine in question, he sent it to Mucianus. The latter, hearing 
how things had gone, sent for the poor engineer, asked why he 
had disobeyed his orders, and refusing to listen to any excuse 

lOI 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

from him, caused him to be stripped naked and so flogged and 
scourged with rods that he died, because it seemed to Mucianus 
that instead of obeying, the man had tried to offer advice. So 
we had best use great caution with these rigourous men. 

25 — " But now let us leave this subject of intercourse with 
princes, and come to conversation with our equals or with 
those that are nearly so: for we must pay heed to this also, 
since it is universally more practised and a man more often 
finds himself engaged in it than in conversation with princes. 

" There are however some simpletons, who, even in the com- 
pany of the best friend they have in the world, on meeting a 
man who is better dressed, at once attach themselves to him, 
and then if they happen on one still better dressed, they do the 
like to him. And later, when the prince is passing through the 
squares or churches or other public places, they elbow their 
way past everyone until they reach his side: and even if they 
have naught to say to him, they still must talk, and go on bab- 
bling, and laugh and clap their hands and head, to show they 
have business of importance, so that the crowd may see them in 
favour. But since these fellows deign to speak only with their 
lords, I would not have us deign to speak of them." 

26 — Then the Magnifico Giuliano said: 

" As you have mentioned those who are so fond of the com- 
pany of well dressed men, I should like you to show us, messer 
Federico, in what manner the Courtier ought to dress, and what 
costume is suitable to him, and in what way he ought to govern 
himself in all matters of bodily adornment. For in this we find 
an infinite variety: some who dress after the French fashion, 
some after the Spanish, some who wish to appear German; nor 
is their lack of those who even dress after the style of Turks: 
some who wear their beards, some not. Hence in this medley it 
were well to know how to choose the best." 

Messer Federico said: 

" Indeed I should not know how to give a precise rule about 
dress, except that a man ought to follow the custom of the ma- 
jority; and since (as you say) this custom is so various, and the 
Italians are so fond of arraying themselves after foreign fashions, 
I think every man may dress as he pleases. 

102 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" But I do not know by what fate it happens that Italy has not, 
as it was wont to have, a costume that should be recognized as 
Italian: for although the putting of these new fashions into use 
may have made the former ones seem very rude, yet the old 
ones were perhaps a badge of freedom, as the new ones have 
proved an augury of servitude, which I think is now very clearly 
fulfilled.'" And as it is recorded that when Darius had the Per- 
sian sword which he wore at his side fashioned after the Mace- 
donian style, the year before he fought with Alexander, this was 
interpreted by the soothsayers to signify that they into whose 
fashion Darius had transformed his Persian sword, should come 
to rule over Persia."^ So our having changed our Italian garb 
for that of strangers seems to signify that all those for whose 
garb we have exchanged our own must come to conquer us: 
which has been but too true, for there is now left no nation that 
has not made us its prey: so that little more is left to prey upon, 
and yet they do not cease preying upon us. 

27.—" But I do not wish to touch on painful subjects. There- 
fore it will be well to speak of our Courtier's clothes; which I 
think, provided they be not out of the common or inappropriate 
to his profession, may do very well in other respects if only they 
satisfy him who wears them. True it is that I for my part 
should not like them to be extreme in any wise, as the French 
are sometimes wont to be in over amplitude, and the Germans 
in over scantiness, — but as they both are, only corrected and 
improved in form by the Italians. Moreover I always like them 
to tend a little towards the grave and sober rather than the gay. 
Thus I th ink black is more suitable for garments than any other 
colour is; and if it is not black, let it at least be somewhat dark. 
And this I say of ordinary attire, for there is no doubt that 
bright and cheerful colours are more suitable over armour, and 
for gala use also dress may be fringed, showy and magnificent; 
likewise on public occasions, such as festivals, shows, masque- 
rades, and the like. For such garments carry with them a certain 
liveliness and gaiety that accord very well with arms and 
sports. But for the rest I would have our Courtier's dress dis- 
play that sobriety which the Spanish nation greatly affect, for 
things external often bear witness to the things within." 
103 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" This would give me little concern, for if a gentleman is of 
worth in other things, his attire will never enhance or lessen his 
reputation." 

" You say truly," replied messer Federico. " Yet what one of 
us is there, who, on seeing a gentleman pass by with a garment 
on his back quartered in divers colours, or with a mass of strings 
and knotted ribbons and cross lacings, does not take him for a 
fool or a buffoon?" 

" Neither for a fool," said messer Pietro Bembo, " nor for a 

I buffoon would he be taken by anyone who had lived any time in 
Lombardy, for all men go about like that." 

" Then," said my lady Duchess, laughing, " if all men go about 
like that, we must not cast it at them as a fault, since this attire 
is as fitting and proper to them as it is for the Venetians to wear 
puffed sleeves,"* or for the Florentines to wear the hood." 

" I am not speaking," said messer Federico, " more of Lom- 
bardy than of other places, for both the foolish and the wise are 
to be found in every nation. But to say what I think is impor- 
tant in attire, I wish that our Courtier may be neat and dainty 
throughout his dress, and have a certain air of modest elegance, 
yet not of a womanish or vain style. Nor would I have him 
more careful of one thing than of another, like many we see 
who take such pains with their hair that they forget the rest; 
others devote themselves to their teeth, others to their beard, 
others to their boots, others to their bonnets, others to their 
coifs;"" and the result is that these few details of elegance seem 
borrowed by them, while all the rest, being very tasteless, is 
recognized as their own. And this kind of dress I would have 
our Courtier shun, by my advice; adding also that he ought to 
consider how he wishes to seem and of what sort he wishes to 
be esteemed, and to dress accordingly and contrive that his 
attire shall aid him to be so regarded even by those who neither 
hear him speak nor witness any act of his." 

28.— Then my lord Caspar Pallavicino said: 

" Methinks it is not fitting, or even customary among persons 
of worth, to judge men's quality by their dress rather than by 
their words and acts; for many would make mistakes, nor is it 

104 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

without reason that we have the proverb, ' dress makes not the 
monk.'" 

"I do not say," replied messer Federico, "that fixed opinions 
of men's worth are to be formed only in this way, or that they 
are not better known by their words and acts than by their 
dress: but I do say that dress is no bad index of the wearer's 
fancy, although it may be sometimes wrong; and not only this, 
but all ways and manners, as well as acts and words, are an in- 
dication of the qualities of the man in whom they are seen." 

•' And what things do you find," replied my lord Gaspar, " from 
which we may form an opinion, that are neither words nor 
acts?" 

Then messer Federico said: 

" You are too subtle a logician. But to tell you what I mean, 
there are some acts that still endure after they are performed, 
such as building, writing, and the like; others do not endure, 
such as those I have now in mind. In this sense, therefore, I do 
not say that walking, laughing, looking, and the like, are acts, — 
and yet all these outward things often give knowledge of those 
within. Tell me, did you not judge that friend of ours, of whom 
we were speaking only this morning, to be a light and frivolous 
man as soon as you saw him walking with that twist of his head, 
wriggling about, and with affable demeanour inviting the by- 
standers to doff their caps to him? So, too, when you see anyone 
gazing too intently with dull eyes after the manner of an idiot, or 
laughing as stupidly as those goitrous mutes in the mountains of 
Bergamo,'" — do you not set him down a very simpleton, although 
he neither speak nor do aught else? Thus you see that these 
ways and manners (which I do not for the present regard as 
acts) in great measure make men known to us. 

29-— "But another thing seems to me to give and to take away 
from reputation greatly, and this is our choice of the friends with 
whom we are to live in intimate relations; for doubtless reason 
requires that they who are joined in close amity and fast com- 
panionship, shall have their desires, souls, judgments and minds 
also in accord. Thus, he who consorts with the ignorant or 
wicked, is deemed ignorant or wicked; and on the contrary, he 
who consorts with the good, the wise, and the discreet, is himself 
105 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

deemed to be the like. Because by nature everything seems to 
join willingly with its like. Therefore I think we ought to use 
great care in beginning these friendships, for he who knows one 
of two close friends, at once imagines the other to be of the same 
quality." 

Then messer Pietro Bembo replied: 

" I certainly think we ought to take great care to limit our- 
selves to friends of like mind with us, as you say, not only because 
of the gain or loss of reputation, but because there are to-day 
very few true friends to be found, nor do I believe that the world 
any longer contains a Pylades and Orestes, a Theseus and Pirith- 
ous, or a Scipio and Laelius.'" On the contrary, by some fatality 
it happens every day that two friends, who have lived in very 
cordial love for many years, yet in some way cheat each other 
at last, either through malice, or jealousy, or fickleness, or some 
other evil cause : and each gives the other the blame which per- 
haps both deserve. 

" Therefore, since it has more than once happened to me to be 
deceived by him whom I most loved above every other person, 
and by whom I was sure I was loved, — I have sometimes thought 
to myself that it would be well for us never to trust anyone in 
the world, nor so to give ourselves up to any friend (however 
dear and loved he be) as to reveal all our thoughts to him, as we 
should to ourselves; for there are so many dark corners and re- 
cesses in our minds that it is impossible for human wit to pene- 
trate the deceptions they conceal. Hence I think it were well to 
love and serve one more than another according to merit and 
worth; yet never to be so sure of friendship's sweet enticement, 
that we at last have cause to rue our trust." 

30 — Then messer Federico said: 

"Verily the loss would be far greater than the gain, if human 
intercourse were to be deprived of that highest pitch of friendship 
which in my opinion gives us all the good our life has in it; and 
therefore I will in no wise admit that what you say is reasonable, 
nay rather I venture to assert, and for the clearest reasons, that 
without this perfect friendship men would be far unhappier than 
all other creatures. And if some profanely stain this sacred name 
of friendship, we ought not on that account to uproot it from our 

106 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

hearts, and for the guilt of the wicked deprive the good of such 
felicity. And for my part I think there are here among us more 
than one pair of friends, whose love is steadfast and without de- 
ceit and lasting unto death with like desires, no less than if they 
were those ancients whom you mentioned awhile ago; and it 
happens thus when a man chooses a friend, not only from heaven- 
born impulse, but like himself in character. And in all this I am 
speaking of the good and virtuous, for the friendship of the 
wicked is not friendship. 

"I am well pleased that so close a tie as this should not join or 
bind more than two, for otherwise perhaps it would be danger- 
ous; because, as you know, it is harder to attune three musical 
instruments together, than two. Therefore, I would that our 
Courtier might have one special and hearty friend, if possible, of 
the kind we have described; then that he might love, honour and 
respect all others according to their worth and merits, and always 
contrive to consort more with such as are in high esteem and 
noble and of known virtue, than with the ignoble and those of 
little worth; in such wise that he may be loved and honoured 
by them also. And he will accomplish this if he be courteous, 
kind, generous, affable and mild with others, zealous and ac- 
tive to serve and guard his friends' welfare and honour both 
absent and present, enduring such of their natural defects as 
are endurable, without breaking with them for slight cause, 
and correcting in himself those that are kindly pointed out; 
never thrusting himself before others to reach the first and 
most honoured places; nor acting like some, who seem to de- 
spise the world and insist with a kind of tiresome preciseness 
on laying down the law for everyone, and who, besides being 
unseasonably contentious in every little thing, censure that which 
they do not do themselves, and are always seeking occasion for 
complaint against their friends, — which is a very odious thing." 

3I-— Messer Federico pausing here, my lord Caspar Pallavi- 
cino said: 

" I should like to have you speak a little more in detail than 
you do about this matter of converse with our friends; for in 
truth you keep much to generalities, and show us things in 
passing, as it were." 
107 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

"How 'in passing'?" replied messer Federico. "Perhaps you 
would have me tell the very words that you must use ? Do you 
not think we have talked enough about this?" 

"Enough I think," replied my lord Gaspar. "Yet I should 
like to hear a few more details about the manner of intercourse 
with men and women; for the thing seems to me of great 
importance, seeing that most of our time at courts is given to 
it; and if it were always the same, it would soon become te- 
dious." 

" I think," replied messer Federico, " we have given the Cour- 
tier knowledge of so many things, that he can easily vary his 
conversation and adapt himself to the quality of the persons 
with whom he has to do, presupposing he has good sense and 
governs himself by it, and sometimes turns to grave matters and 
sometimes to festivals and games, according to the occasion." 

"And what games?" said my lord Gaspar. 

Then messer Federico replied, laughing: 

" Let us ask advice of Fra Serafino, who invents new ones 
every day." 

" Jesting apart," answered my lord Gaspar, " do you think it 
would be a vice in the Courtier to play at cards and dice?" 

" Not I," said messer Federico, " unless he did so too con- 
stantly and neglected more important matters for them, or in- 
deed unless he played for nothing else but to win money, and 

■" -ted the company, and showed such grief and vexation at 
trate tuo . , . ^r- • » 

, -» argue himself a miser, 
love and serv*.. ,. , i j <-. ,, j r ^i. 

replied my lord Gaspar, " do you say of the 
worth; yet never 

that we at last have , 4. j • • 4. .. • j 

_, 'Pleasant and ingenious amusement, said 

30.— Then messer Fe . t 4.u- 1 ^u • j r ^ • •* a j 

,,.,,, ,t I think there is one defect in it. And 

"Venly the loss wouh . , ^t, ^ u u 1 

•^ , , to know, so that whoever would excel 

mtercourse were to be dew j 1.^. -^ ^i.- 1 j 

.... . . . ^'^ spend much time on it, methinks, and 

which in my opinion gives f^, ,, , t,i • 

^, - _ -^ .,r. ° . *^ he would learn some noble science 

therefore I will in no wise a . , j ^ ■ ^.i. ^ 

, "tance you please; and yet in the end 

nay rather I venture to assei j ^iT- u\ rru 

•;fi- ^ X1-- f ^ r ■ , .irned nothing but a game. There- 

without this perfect friendf ^,. . ^ ^ .^ 1 ^1. .. j- 

„ ^, '^ A J . * thing IS true of it, namely that medi- 

an other creatures. And/ ,, ,, „ "^ 

^^. J,. , thy than excellence, 

of friendship, we ought . . ■^ 

108 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Many Spaniards excel in this and divers other games, yet 
without giving them much study or neglecting other things." 

" Believe me," replied messer Federico, " they do give much 
study thereto, although covertly. But those other games you 
speak of, besides chess, are perhaps like many I have seen 
played (although of little moment), which serve only to make 
the vulgar marvel; wherefore methinks they deserve no other 
praise or reward than that which Alexander the Great gave the 
fellow who at a good distance impaled chick-peas on the point 
of a needle.'" 

32 — " But since it appears that fortune exerts immense power 
over men's opinions as over many other things, we sometimes 
see that a gentleman, however well conditioned he may be and 
endowed with many graces, is unacceptable to a prince, and 
goes against the grain as we say;'" and this without any ap- 
parent reason, so that as soon as he comes into the prince's 
presence and before he is known by the others, although he be 
keen and ready with retorts, and display himself to advantage in 
gestures, manners, words, and all else that is becoming, — the 
prince will show small esteem for him, nay will soon put some 
affront upon him. And thus it will come about that the others 
will follow the prince's lead, and everyone will regard the man 
as of little worth, nor will there be any to prize or esteem him, 
or laugh at his amusing talk or hold him in any respect; nay, all 
will begin to deride and persecute him. Nor will it be enough 
for the poor man to make good retorts or take things as if said 
in jest, for the very pages will set upon him, so that even if he 
were the sturdiest man in the world, he must perforce remain 
foiled and ridiculed. 

" And on the other hand, if the prince shows favour to a very 
dolt, who knows neither how to speak nor how to act, — his man- 
ners and ways (however silly and uncouth they be) will often be 
praised by everyone with exclamations and astonishment, and 
the whole court will seem to admire and respect him, and every- 
one will appear to laugh at his jests and at certain rustic and 
stupid jokes that ought to excite rather disgust than laughter: to 
such degree are men firm and fixed in the opinions that are en- 
gendered by the favour and disfavour of lords, 
log 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Therefore I would have our Courtier set off his worth as 
best he can, with cleverness and skill, and whenever he has to 
go where he is strange and unknown, let him take care that 
good opinion of him precedes him, and see to it that men there 
shall know of his being highly rated in other places, among 
other lords, ladies and gentlemen; for that fame which seems to 
spring from many judgments, begets a kind of firm belief in a 
man's worth, which, in minds thus disposed and prepared, is 
then easily maintained and increased by his conduct: moreover 
he escapes that annoyance which I feel when asked who I am 
and what my name is." 

33.—" I do not see how this can help," replied messer Ber- 
nardo Bibbiena; "for it has several times happened to me, and 
I think to many others, that having been led by the word of per- 
sons of judgment to imagine something to be of great excellence 
before I saw it, — on seeing it I found it paltry and was much 
disappointed of what I expected. And the reason was simply 
that I had put too much trust in report and formed in my mind 
so high an expectation, that although the real thing was great 
and excellent, yet when afterwards measured by the fact, it 
seemed very paltry by comparison with what I had imagined. 
And I fear it may be so with our Courtier too. Therefore I do 
not see the advantage of raising such expectations and sending 
our fame before us; for the mind often imagines things that it is 
impossible to fulfil, and thus we lose more than we gain." 

Here messer Federico said: 

" The things that you and many others find inferior to their 
reputation, are for the most part of such sort that the eye can 
judge of them at a glance, — as if you had never been at Naples 
or Rome, and from hearing them so much talked of, you were to 
imagine something far beyond what they afterwards proved to 
be when seen; but such is not the case with men's character, be- 
cause that which is outwardly seen is the least part. Thus, on 
first hearing a gentleman speak, if you should not find in him that 
worth which you had previously imagined, you would not at 
once reverse your good opinion of him, as you would in those 
matters whereof the eye is instant judge, but you would wait 
from day to day to discover some other hidden virtue, still hold- 
no 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ing fast to the good impression you had received from so many 
lips; and later, if he were thus richly endowed (as I assume our 
Courtier to be), your confidence in his reputation would be hourly 
confirmed, because his acts would justify it, and you would be 
always imagining something more than you saw. 

34.— "And surely it cannot be denied that these first impressions 
have very great weight, and that we ought to be very careful 
regarding them. And to the end that you may see how important 
they are, I tell you that in my time I knew a gentleman, who, 
while he was of very gentle aspect and modest manners and also 
valiant in arms, yet did not so greatly excel in any of these things 
but that he had many equals and even superiors. However, fate 
so willed that a lady chanced to fall most ardently in love with 
him, and her love increasing daily with the signs that the young 
man gave of loving her in return, and there being no way for 
them to speak together, she was moved by excess of passion to 
reveal her desires to another lady through whom she hoped to 
secure some assistance. This lady was in no wise inferior to the 
first in rank or beauty; whence it came to pass, that on hear- 
ing the young man (whom she had never seen) spoken of so 
tenderly, and perceiving that he was extravagantly loved by 
her friend (whom she knew to be very discreet and of excel- 
lent judgment), she straightway imagined him to be the hand- 
somest and wisest and most discreet and in short the most 
lovable man in the world. And thus, without having seen him, 
she became so passionately enamoured of him, that she began 
making every effort to secure him, not for her friend but for 
herself, and inducing him to return her love: which she suc- 
ceeded in doing with little effort, for in truth she was a lady 
rather to be wooed than to woo others. 

" Now hear the end of my tale. Not long afterwards it hap- 
pened that a letter, which this second lady had written to her 
lover, fell into the hands of still another lady, also very noble 
and of good character and rarest beauty, — who, being like most 
ladies curious and eager to learn secrets and especially other 
ladies', opened this letter, and on reading it saw that it was 
written with the fervour of ardent love. And the sweet, im- 
passioned words that she read first moved her to compassion 
III 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

for that lady, for she well knew from whom the letter came 
and to whom it was going; then they gained such power, that 
as she turned them over in her mind and considered what sort 
of man he must be who could arouse such love in the lady, 
she too straightway fell in love with him; and the letter had 
perhaps a greater effect than if it had been sent by the young 
man to her. And as it sometimes happens that a poisoned 
dish, intended for a prince, kills the first comer who tastes it, 
so in her over greediness this poor lady drank the love poison 
that had been prepared for another. 

"What more shall I say? The affair became well known, 
and spread abroad so that many other ladies besides these, 
partly to spite the others and partly to imitate them, used every 
effort and pains to possess themselves of the man's love, and 
contended for it with one another as boys contend for cherries. 
And all this began with the first impression of that lady who saw 
him so beloved by another," 

35.— Here my lord Caspar Pallavicino replied, laughing: 

" To give reasons in support of your opinion, you cite the 
doings of women, who for the most part are quite unreasonable. 
And if you cared to tell the whole truth, this favourite of so 
many women must have been a dunce and at bottom a man of 
little worth. For their way is always to favour the meanest, and 
like sheep to do what they see others doing, whether it be good or 
evil. Moreover they are so jealous among themselves, that even 
if the man had been a monster, they would have tried to steal 
him from one another." 

Here many began to speak, and nearly everyone wanted to 
contradict my lord Gaspar; but my lady Duchess imposed 
silence on all, and then said, laughing: 

" If the evil you say of women were not so far from the truth, 
that the saying of it casts blame and shame on him who says it 
rather than on them, I should allow you to be answered. But I 
am not willing that, by being confronted with the arguments 
which it is possible to cite, you should be cured of this evil 
habit, in order that you may suffer very grievous punishment 
for your fault: which shall be the bad opinion wherein you will be 
held by all who hear you argue in such fashion." 

XI2 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Then messer Federico replied: 

" My lord Caspar, do not say that women are so very un- 
reasonable, even if they are sometimes moved to love by others' 
judgment rather than by their own; for gentlemen and many 
wise men do the same. And if I may say the truth, you your- 
self and all the rest of us here do often and even now trust more 
to the opinion of others than to our own. And in proof of this, 
it is not long ago that certain verses, handed about this court 
under the name of Sannazaro,'"' seemed very excellent to every- 
one and were praised with wonder and applause; then, it being 
known for certain that they were by another hand, they promptly 
sank in reputation and were thought less than mediocre. And a 
certain motet,'"' which was sung before my lady Duchess, found 
no favour and was not thought good until it was known to be the 
work of Josquin de Pres.'" 

"What clearer proof of the weight of opinion would you have? 
Do you not remember that in drinking a certain wine, you at one 
time pronounced it perfect, and at another most insipid? And 
this because you believed there were two kinds of wine, one 
from the Genoese Riviera, and the other from this country; and 
even when the mistake was discovered, you would not at all be- 
lieve it, — so firmly fixed in your mind was that wrong opinion, 
although you had received it from the report of others. 

36.—" Hence the Courtier ought to take great care to make a 
good impression at the start, and to consider how mischievous 
and fatal a thing it is to do otherwise. And they of all men run 
this danger, who pride themselves on being very amusing and 
on having acquired by these pleasantries of theirs a certain free- 
dom that makes it proper and permissible for them to do and 
say whatever occurs to them, without taking thought about it. 
Thus they often begin a thing they know not how to finish, and 
then try to help matters by raising a laugh ; and yet they do 
this so clumsily that it does not succeed, insomuch that they 
rouse the utmost disgust in him who sees or hears them, and fail 
most lamentably. 

" Sometimes, thinking it to be droll and witty, they say the 
foulest and most indecent things before and even to honourable 
ladies; and the more they make these ladies blush, the more 

"3 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

they rate themselves good Courtiers, and they laugh and pride 
themselves on having such a fine accomplishment, as they deem 
it. Yet they commit all this folly with no other aim than to be 
esteemed jovial fellows: this is the one name which seems to 
them worthy of praise and of which they boast more than of 
any other; and to acquire it, they utter the grossest and most 
shameful vileness in the world. Often they throw one another 
down-stairs, clap billets of wood and bricks on one another's 
backs, cast handfulls of dust in one another's eyes, make one 
another's horses run into ditches or down some hill; then at 
table they throw soups, sauces, jellies and every kind of thing in 
one another's faces:'" and then they laugh. And he who can 
excel the others in these things, esteems himself to be the best 
Courtier and the most gallant, and thinks he has won great 
glory. And if they sometimes invite a gentleman to these 
carouses of theirs, and he does not choose to join in their un- 
mannerly jokes, they at once say he stands too much on his 
dignity, and holds himself aloof, and is not a jovial fellow. But 
I have worse to tell you. There are some who rival one an- 
other and award the palm to him who can eat and drink the 
vilest and most offensive things; and they devise dishes so ab- 
horrent to human sense that it is impossible to recall them with- 
out extreme disgust." 

37 — "And what may these be?" said my lord Ludovico Pio. 

Messer Federico replied: 

"Ask the Marquess Febus, who has often seen them in 
France, and perhaps has taken part." 

The Marquess Febus replied: 

" I have seen none of these things done in France that are not 
done in Italy as well. But what is good among the Italians in 
dress, sports, banquets, handling arms, and in everything else 
that befits a Courtier, — all comes from the French." 

Messer Federico replied: 

" I do not say that very noble and modest cavaliers are not 
also to be found among the French, and I myself have known 
many who were truly worthy of every praise. But some are 
little circumspect, and generally speaking it seems to me that as 
regards breeding the Spaniards have more in common with the 

114 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Italians than the French have; because that grave reserve 
peculiar to the Spaniards befits us far more than the quick 
vivacity which among the French we see in almost every 
movement, and which is not unseemly in them, nay is charming, 
for it is so natural and proper to them as not to seem at all 
affected. There are very many Italians who earnestly strive to 
copy this manner; and they can only shake their heads in speak- 
ing and make clumsy crosswise bows, and walk so fast that their 
lackeys cannot keep up with them when they pass through the 
city. And with these ways they seem to themselves to be good 
Frenchmen and to have the same freedom of manner, which in 
truth rarely happens save with those who have been bred in 
France and have acquired the manner in their youth. 

"The same is true of knowing many languages; which I ap- 
prove highly in the Courtier, especially Spanish and French, 
because the intercourse of both these nations with Italy is very 
frequent, and they have more in common with us than any of the 
others have ; and their two princes,'™ being very powerful in 
war and very glorious in peace, always have their courts full of 
noble cavaliers, who spread throughout the world; and it is 
necessary for us also to converse with them. 

38.—" I do not care at present to go more into detail in speak- 
ing of things that are too well known, such as that our Courtier 
ought not to avow himself a great eater or drinker, or given to 
excess in any evil habit, or vile and ungoverned in his life, with 
certain peasant ways that recall the hoe and plough a thousand 
miles away; because a man of this kind not only may not hope 
to become a good Courtier, but can be set to no more fitting 
business than feeding sheep. 

" And finally I say it were well for the Courtier to know per- 
fectly that which we have said befits him, so that every possible 
thing may be easy to him, and everyone may marvel at him, — 
he at no one. But be it understood that there ought not to be in 
him that lofty and ungenial indifference which some men have 
who show they are not surprised at what others do because 
they imagine they can do it better, and who disparage it by 
silence as not worth speaking of; and they almost seem to imply 
that no one is their equal or even able to fathom the profundity 

115 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of their knowledge. W^herefore the Courtier ought to shun 
these odious ways, and to praise the fine achievements of other 
men with kindness and good will; and although he may feel that 
he is admirable and far superior to all, yet he ought to appear 
not to think so. 

" But since such complete perfection as this is very rarely and 
perhaps never found in human nature, a man who is conscious 
of being lacking in some particular, ought not to despond thereat 
or lose hope of reaching a high standard, even though he cannot 
attain that perfect and supreme excellence to which he aspires. 
For in every art there are many grades that are honourable 
besides the highest, and whoever aims at the highest will seldom 
fail to rise more than half-way. Therefore if our Courtier 
excels in anything besides arms, I would have him get profit and 
esteem from it in fine fashion; and I would have him so dis- 
creet and sensible as to be able with skill and address to attract 
men to see and hear that wherein he thinks he excels, always 
appearing not to do it from ostentation, but by chance and at 
others' request rather than by his own wish. And in everything 
he has to do or say, let him if possible come ready and prepared, 
yet appearing to act impromptu throughout. In those things, 
however, wherein he feels himself to be mediocre, let him touch 
in passing, without dwelling much upon them, albeit in such 
fashion that he may be thought to know more about them than 
he shows himself to know: like certain poets, who sometimes 
touched lightly upon the profoundest depths of philosophy and 
other sciences, of which perhaps they understood little. Then, 
in that of which he knows he is wholly ignorant, I would never 
have him make any pretence or seek to win any fame; nay if 
need be, let him frankly confess his ignorance." 

39— "That," said Calmeta, "is not what Nicoletto"" would have 
done, who was a very excellent philosopher but knew no more 
about law than about flying. When a Podest^'" of Padua had 
decided to give him a lectureship in law, he was never willing 
(although urged thereto by many scholars) to undeceive the Po- 
dest^ and confess his ignorance, — always saying that he did not 
agree with the opinion of Socrates in this matter, and that it was 
not seemly for a philosopher ever to say that he was ignorant 
of anything." 

ii6 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Messer Federico replied: 

" I do not say that of his own notion and unasked by others, 
the Courtier should volunteer to tell his ignorance; for I too 
dislike this folly of self-accusal and depreciation. And there- 
fore I sometimes inwardly laugh at certain men, who needlessly 
and of their own accord narrate things that perhaps occurred 
without their fault but yet imply a shade of disgrace; like a 
cavalier whom you all know, and who, whenever he heard men- 
tion made of the battle that was fought against King Charles 
in the Parmesan,'"' at once began to tell the manner of his 
flight, nor seemed to have seen or heard aught else that day; 
again, speaking of a certain famous joust, he always described 
how he had fallen, and in his conversation he often seemed to 
seek an opportunity to tell how he had received a sound cud- 
gelling one night as he was on his way to meet a lady. 

" I would not have our Courtier tell such follies. It seems to 
me, however, that when occasion offers for displaying himself in 
something of which he is quite ignorant, he ought to avoid it; 
and if compelled by necessity, he ought to confess his ignorance 
frankly rather than put himself to that risk. And in this way 
he will escape the censure that many nowadays deserve, who 
from some perverse instinct or unreasonable design always set 
themselves to do that which they do not know, and forsake that 
which they do know. And as an instance of this, I know a very 
excellent musician, who, having abandoned music, gave himself 
up wholly to composing verses, and thinks himself very great 
therein, and makes all men laugh at him; and now he has lost 
even his music. 

" Another man, one of the first painters of the world, despises 
the art wherein he is most rare, and has set himself to study 
philosophy; in which he has such strange conceptions and 
new chimeras, that he could not with all his painter's art depict 
them."' And of such as these, a countless number could be 
found. 

" Some indeed there are who know they excel in one thing 
and yet make their chief business of another, of which they are 
not ignorant either; but every time they have occasion to display 
themselves in that wherein they feel themselves proficient, they 
do it gallantly. And it sometimes comes to pass that the com- 
117 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

pany, seeing them do well in that which is not their profession, 
think they can do far better in that which they make their pro- 
fession. This art, if it be accompanied by good judgment, is by 
no means unpleasing to me." 

40-— Then my lord Gaspar Pallavicino replied: 

"This seems to me not art but mere deceit; nor do I think 
it fitting for him who would be a man of honour, ever to de- 
ceive." 

" It is an embellishment, which graces what he does," said 
miesser Federico, "rather than deceit; and even if it be deceit, it 
is not to be censured. Will you not also say that of two men 
fencing, the one who touches the other, deceives him? And 
this is because the one has more art than the other. And if you 
have a jewel that is beautiful without setting, and it afterwards 
comes into the hands of a good goldsmith, who by skilful setting 
makes it look far more beautiful, will you not say that this gold- 
smith deceives the eyes of anyone who sees it ? And yet he deserves 
praise for his deceit, for with good judgment and art his master 
hand often adds grace and beauty to ivory or silver, or to a beauti- 
ful stone by encircling it with fine gold. Therefore let us not say 
that art, — or such deceit as this, if you will call it so, — deserves 
any censure. 

" Nor is it unseemly for a man who is conscious of doing 
something well, dexterously to seek occasion for showing him- 
self therein, and at the same time to conceal what he thinks 
undeserving of praise, — but always with a touch of wary dis- 
simulation. Do you not remember that without appearing to 
seek them. King Ferdinand** found opportunities now and then 
to go about in his doublet? and this because he felt himself to 
be very agile; and that, as his hands were not over good, he 
rarely or almost never took off his gloves? And there were 
very few that perceived his cunning. Moreover I think I have 
read that Julius Caesar liked to wear the laurel wreath to hide 
his baldness."* But in all these matters it is needful to be very 
cautious and to use good judgment, in order not to go beyond 
bounds; for in avoiding one errour a man often runs into 
another, and in his wish to win praise, receives censure, 

41 — " Hence in our mode of life and conversation, it is a very 

118 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

safe thing to govern ourselves v/ith a certain decorous dis- 
cretion, which in truth is a very great and very strong shield 
against envy, which we ought to avoid as much as possible. 
Moreover I wish our Courtier to guard against getting the name 
of a liar or a boaster, which sometimes befalls even those who 
do not deserve it. Therefore in his talk let him always take 
care not to go beyond the probable, and also not to tell too often 
those truths that have the look of falsehood,"* — like many who 
never speak save of miracles, and wish to carry such authority' 
that every incredible thing shall be believed from them. Others, 
at the beginning of a friendship and in order to gain favour with 
their new friend, swear the first day they speak with him that 
there is no one in the world whom they love more than him, and 
that they would gladly die to do him service, and like things be- 
yond reason. And when they part from him, they pretend to 
weep and to be unable to speak a word from grief. Thus, in 
their wish to be thought very loving, they come to be esteemed 
liars and silly flatterers. 

" But it would be too long and tedious to recount all the faults 
that may be committed in our manner of conversation. Hence 
as regards what I desire in the Courtier, let it suffice to say, be- 
sides the things already said, that he should be of such sort as 
never to be without something to say that is good and well 
suited to those with whom he is speaking, and that he should 
know how to refresh the minds of his hearers w^ith a certain 
sweetness, and by his amusing witticisms and pleasantries to 
move them cleverly to mirth and laughter, so that without ever 
becoming tedious or producing satiety, he may give pleasure 
continually. 

42.— "At last I think my lady Emilia will give me leave to be 
silent. And if she refuse me, I shall by my own talk stand con- 
victed of not being the good Courtier whereof I have spoken- for 
not only does good talk (which perhaps you have neither now 
nor ever heard from me), but even such talk as I usually have at 
command (whatever that may be worth), quite fail me." 

Then my lord Prefect said, laughing: 

" I am not willing to let this false opinion, — that you are not a 
most admirable Courtier, — rest in the mind of any of us; for it is 
119 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

certain that your desire to be silent proceeds rather from a wish 
to escape labour than from lack of something to say. So, to the 
end that nothing may seem to be neglected in such worthy com- 
pany as this and such admirable talk, be pleased to teach us how 
we must employ the pleasantries that you have just mentioned, 
and to show us the art that pertains to all this kind of amus- 
ing talk, so as to excite laughter and mirth in gentle fashion; 
for indeed methinks it is very important and well befitting the 
Courtier." 

" My Lord," replied messer Federico, " pleasantries and witti- 
cisms are the gift and grace of nature rather than of art; but in 
this matter certain nations are to be found more ready than 
others, like the Tuscans, who in truth are very clever. It 
seems to me that the use of witticism is very natural to the 
Spaniards too. Yet there are many,both of these and of all other 
nations, who from over loquacity sometimes go beyond bounds 
and become silly and pointless, because they do not consider the 
kind of person with whom they are speaking, the place where 
they are, the occasion, or the soberness and modesty which they 
ought above all things to maintain." 

43-— Then my lord Prefect replied: 

" You deny that there is any art in pleasantries, and yet by 
speaking ill of those who use them not with modesty and sober- 
ness and who regard not the occasion and the persons with whom 
they are speaking, methinks you show that even this can be 
taught and has some method in it." 

•' These rules, my Lord," replied messer Federico, " are so 
universal that they fit and apply to everything. But I said 
there is no art in pleasantries, because I think there are only 
two kinds of them to be found: one of which stretches out in 
long and continuous talk, as we see in the case of certain men 
who narrate and describe so gracefully and amusingly some- 
thing that has happened to them or that they have seen or 
heard, that they set it before our eyes with gestures and words 
and almost make us touch it with the hand; and for lack of 
other word, we may perhaps call this the humourous or urbane 
manner. The other kind of witticism is very short, and con- 
sists solely in sayings that are quick and sharp, such as are 

120 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

often heard among us, or biting; nor are they acceptable unless 
they sting a little. By the ancients also they were called apo- 
thegms: at present some call them argusie.^'^ 

" So I say that in the first kind, which is humourous narrative, 
there is no need of any art, because nature herself creates and 
fashions men fitted to narrate amusingly, and gives them fea- 
tures, gestures, voice and words proper to imitate what they 
will. In the other kind, that of argusie, what can art avail? 
For whatever it be, a pungent saying must dart forth and hit the 
mark before he who utters it shall seem to have given it a 
thought; otherwise it is flat and has no savour. Therefore I 
think it is all the work of intellect and nature." 

Then messer Pietro Bembo took up the talk, and said: 

" My lord Prefect does not deny what you say, that nature 
and intellect play the chief part, especially as regards concep- 
tion. Still it is certain that every man's mind, however fine his 
intellect may be, conceives both good things and bad, and more 
or less; yet judgment and art then polish and correct them, and 
cull out the good and reject the bad. So lay aside what per- 
tains to intellect, and explain to us what consists in art; that is, 
of the pleasantries and witticisms that excite laughter, tell us 
what are befitting the Courtier and what are not, and in what 
time and way they should be used; for this is what my lord 
Prefect asks of you." 

44— Then messer Federico said laughingly: 

•* There is no one of us here to whom I do not yield in every- 
thing, and especially in being jocular; unless perhaps nonsense, 
which often makes others laugh more than bright sayings, be 
also counted as pleasantry." And then turning to Count Ludo- 
vico and to messer Bernardo Bibbiena, he said: "Here are the 
masters of witticism, from whom I must first learn what to say 
if I am to speak of jocose sayings."'" 

Count Ludovico replied: 

" Methinks you are already beginning to practise what you 
say you know nothing of, I mean in that you try to make these 
gentlemen laugh by ridiculing messer Bernardo and me; for 
every one of them knows you far excel us in that for which you 
praise us. If you are fatigued, then, you had better beg my lady 

121 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Duchess to postpone the rest of our talk until to-morrow, instead 
of trying to escape fatigue by subterfuge." 

Messer Federico began to make answer, but my lady Emilia 
quickly interrupted him and said: 

" It is not in order for the discussion to spend itself in your 
praises; it is enough that you are all well known. But as I 
remember. Sir Count, that you accused me last evening of not 
distributing the labour equally, it were well to let messer Fed- 
erico rest awhile, and to give messer Bernardo Bibbiena the 
task of speaking about pleasantries, because we not only know 
him to be very amusing in continuous talk, but we remember 
that he has several times promised us to try to write upon this 
subject, and hence we may believe that he has already thought 
much about it, and therefore ought to satisfy us fully. After- 
wards, when we have finished discussing pleasantries, messer 
Federico shall go on with what he has left to say about the 
Courtier." 

Thereupon messer Federico said: 

'♦My Lady, I do not know what I have left to say; but like 
the wayfarer at noon, weary with the fatigue of his long jour- 
ney, I will refresh myself with messer Bernardo's talk and the 
sound of his words, as if under some delightful and shady tree, 
with the soft murmur of a plashing spring. Then perhaps, being 
revived a little, I shall be able to say something more." 

Messer Bernardo replied, laughing: 

" If I show you my head, you shall see what shade is to be 
expected from the leafage of my tree."* As for listening to the 
murmur of that plashing spring, perhaps you may; for I was 
once turned into a spring, not by any of the ancient gods but by 
our friend Fra Mariano,*" and I have never stood in need of 
water from then till now." 

Then everyone began to laugh, for this pleasantry referred to 
by messer Bernardo happened at Rome in the presence of Car- 
dinal Galeotto of San Pietro ad Vincula,'*" and was well known 
to all. 

45'— The laughter having ceased, my lady Emilia said: 

" Now stop making us laugh by your use of pleasantries, and 
teach us how we are to use them, and from what they are 

122 




Reduced from Braun's photograph (no. 4^158) of the portrait, in the Pitti Gallery at 
Florence, long attributed to Raphael (1483-1520), but regarded by Morelli as the work 
of a pupil. 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

derived, and all you know about the subject. And to lose no 
more time, begin at once." 

" I fear," said messer Bernardo, "that the hour is late; and to 
the end that my talk about pleasantries may not itself lack 
pleasantry and be tedious, perhaps it will be well to postpone it 
until to-morrow." 

Here many replied together that it was still far from the 
usual hour for ending the discussion. Then, turning to my lady 
Duchess and to my lady Emilia, messer Bernardo said: 

" I do not wish to escape this task; although, just as I am wont 
to marvel at the presumption of those who venture to sing to the 
viol before our friend Giacomo Sansecondo,™ so I ought not to 
talk about pleasantries before an audience who understand 
what I should say far better than I. 

" However, not to give any of these gentlemen a pretext for 
refusing the charge that may be laid upon them, I will tell as 
briefly as I can what occurs to me concerning the c auses tha j_ 
^x cite laughter; which is so peculiar to us that in defining man 
we are wont to say that he is a laughing animal. For laughter 
is found only among men, and is nearly always the sign of a 
certain hilarity felt inwardly in the mind, which is by nature 
drawn towards amusement and longs for repose and recreation; 
wherefore we see many things devised by men to this end, such 
as festivals and different kinds of shows. And since we love 
those who furnish us this recreation, it was the custom of an- 
cient rulers (Roman, Athenian and many others), in order to 
gain the people's good will and to feast the eyes and minds of 
the multitude, to erect great theatres and other public edifices, 
and therein to exhibit new sports, horse and chariot races, com- 
bats, strange beasts, comedies, tragedies and mimes. Nor were 
such shows eschewed by grave philosophers, who in sports of 
this kind and banquets often relaxed their minds when fatigued 
by lofty discourse and spiritual meditation; which thing all kinds 
of men also like to do: for not only toilers in the field, sailors, 
and all those who perform hard and rough labour with their 
hands, but holy priests, and prisoners awaiting death from hour 
to hour, all seek continually some remedy and solace for their 
refreshment. Hence everything that moves to laughter, cheers 
123 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the mind and gives pleasure, and for the moment frees us from 
the memory of those weary troubles of which our life is full. So 
laughter, as you see, is very delightful to all, and greatly to be 
praised is he who excites it reasonably and in a graceful way. 

" But what laughter is, and where it abides, and how it some- 
times seizes upon our veins, eyes, mouths and sides, and seems as 
if it would make us burst, so that with all our effort it cannot be 
restrained, — I will leave Democritus to tell, who could not even 
if he were to promise.'" 

46 " Now the occasion and as it were the source from which 

the laughable springs, lies in a kind of distortion; for we laugh 
only at those things that have incongruity in them and that 
seem amiss without being so. I know not how to explain it 
otherwise; but if you think of it yourselves, you will see that 
what we laugh at is nearly always something that is incon- 
gruous and yet is not amiss. 

" Next I will try to tell you, as far as my judgment shall show 
me, what the means are that the Courtier ought to use for 
the purpose of exciting laughter, and within what bounds; 
because it is not seemly for the Courtier to be always making 
men laugh, nor yet by those means that are made use of 
by fools or drunken men, by the silly, the nonsensical, and 
likewise by buffoons. And although these kinds of men seem 
to be in demand at courts, yet they deserve not to be called 
Courtiers, but each by his own name, and to be held for what 
they are. 

" Moreover we must diligently consider the bounds and limits 
of exciting laughter by derision, and who it is we deride; for 
laughter is not aroused by jeering at a poor unfortunate nor yet 
at an open rascal and blackguard, because the latter seems to 
merit greater punishment than that of being ridiculed, and the 
mind of man is not prone to flout the wretched, unless they boast 
of their wretchedness and are proud and saucy. We ought also 
to treat with respect those who are universal favourites and be- 
loved by all and powerful, for by jeering at these persons a man 
may sometimes bring dangerous enmities upon himself. Yet it 
is proper to flout and laugh at the vices of those who are neither 
so wretched as to excite pity, nor so wicked as to seem worthy 

124 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of capital punishment, nor so great that a touch of their wrath 
can do much harm. 

47-— "Again, you must know that from the same occasion 
whence we draw our laughable witticisms, we may likewise 
draw serious phrases of praise or censure, and sometimes by 
using the same words. Thus in praising a generous man who 
shares all he has with his friends, we are wont to say that what 
he has is not his own; the same may be said in censuring a man 
who has stolen or by other evil means acquired what he pos- 
sesses. Also we say, ' That lady is of great price,' meaning to 
praise her for discretion and goodness; the same thing might be 
said in dispraise of her, implying that anyone may have her. 

" But for this purpose we have a chance to use the same 
situations oftener than the same words. Thus recently a lady 
being at mass in church with three cavaliers, one of whom 
served her in love,"" a poor beggar came up and taking his stand 
before the lady began to beg alms of her; and he repeated his 
petition several times to her with much importunity and pitiful 
groaning; yet for all that she gave him no alms, nor still did she 
refuse it to him with a sign to go in peace, but continued to 
stand abstracted as if she were thinking of something else. 
Then the cavalier in love said to his two companions: 

"'You see what I have to expect from my lady, who is so hard- 
hearted that she not only gives no alms to that naked starving 
wretch who is begging it of her so eagerly and often, but she 
will not even send him away. So much does she delight to see 
a man languishing in misery before her and vainly imploring her 

pity.' 

"One of his two friends replied: 

" ' This is not hardness of heart, but a silent lesson from the 

lady to teach you that she is "pypr jOpjigp^Hjaritb an impnrtnngtp- 

suitor.' 

" The other replied: 

" ' Nay, it is a warning to him that while she never grants 
what is asked of her, still she likes to be entreated for it.' 

" You see how the lady's failure to send the^gg r man away^^ 
gave rise to one saying of grave censu re, one o f moderate 
praise, and another of biti ng satire. 
125 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

48.— " Proceeding now to declare the kinds of pleasantries 
that are pertinent to our subject, I say that in my opinion 
there are three varieties, although messer Federico mentioned 
only two: namely, that which consists in rendering the e ffect 
of a thing by means of urbane and amusing long narrative, and 
that which consists in the swift^ndJceen_reAdiness of a single 
phrase. But we will add^iPthird sort called practical joking, 
in which long narratives and short sayings have place, and also 
some action. 

" Now the first, which consists in continuous talk, is of such 
sort as almost to amount to story-telling. And to give you an 
instance: just at the time when Pope Alexander the Sixth died 
and Pius the Third was created pope,™ your fellow Mantuan, 
my lady Duchess, messer Antonio Agnello,'" being at Rome and 
in the palace, happened to speak of the death of the one pope 
and of the other's creation, and in discussing this with some of 
his friends, he said: 

" ' My Lords, even in the days of Catullus'" doors began to 
speak without a tongue and to listen without ears, and thus to 
reveal adulteries. Now, although men are not of such worth as 
they were in those times, it may be that the doors (many of 
which are made of antique marbles, at least here in Rome) have 
the same powers that they then had; and for my part I believe 
that these two here could clear away all our doubts if we cared 
to learn from them.' 

" Then the gentlemen present were very curious, and waited 
to see how the affair was going to end. Whereupon messer 
Antonio, continuing to walk up and down, raised his eyes as if 
by chance to one of the two doors of the hall in which they were 
strolling, stopped a moment, and pointed out to his companions 
the inscription over it, which was the name of Pope Alexander, 
followed by a V and an I, signifying Sixth as you know ; and he 
said: 

"«See what the door says: Alessandro Papa vi, which means 
that he became pope by the violence that he used, and that he 
accomplished more by violence than by reason. Now let us see 
if from the other we can learn anything about the new pope.' 
And turning to the other door as if by accident, he showed the 

126 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

inscription, N PP V, which signified Nicolaus Papa Quintus;"" 
and he at once said: 'Alas, bad news; this one says, Nihil Papa 
Valet: 

49 — " Now you see how elegant and admirable this kind of 
pleasantry is, and how becoming to a Courtier, whether the thing 
that is said be true or not; because in such a case it is allow- 
able for a man to fabricate as much as he pleases, without 
blame; and in speaking the truth, to adorn it with a little falsity, 
overstating or understating as the occasion requires. But in 
these matters perfect grace and true cleverness consist in pictur- 
ing forth what we wish to say, with both word and gesture, so 
well and with such ease that they who hear may seem to see 
before their eyes the thing we tell them. And this graphic 
method is so effective that it sometimes adorns and makes highly 
amusing a thing that in itself is neither very jocular nor clever. 

" And although this kind of narrative requires gesture and the 
aid of the speaking voice, its quality is sometimes found in writ- 
ten compositions also. Who does not laugh, when, in the Eighth 
Day of his Decameron,'" Giovanni Boccaccio tells how the priest 
of Varlungo tried to chant a Kyrie and a Sancttis on discovering 
that his Belcolore was in the church. There are amusing nar- 
ratives also in his stories of Calandrino,"" and in many others. 
Of the same sort seems to be the raising of a laugh by mimicry 
or imitation, as we say, — wherein I have thus far seen no one 
more admirable than our friend messer Roberto da Bari."" 

50.— « This would be no small praise," said messer Roberto, " if 
it were true; because I should of course try to imitate the good 
rather than the bad, and if I could make myself like some men I 
know, I should deem myself very fortunate. I fear, however, that 
I know how to imitate only those things which excite laughter, 
and which you just now said consist essentially in the imperfect." 

Messer Bernardo replied: 

"Imperfect, yes; but not unpleasantly so. And you must 
know that this imitation of which we are speaking, cannot be 
without cleverness; for besides the way of governing words and 
gestures and setting before our hearers' eyes the face and man- 
ners of the man we are speaking of, we must needs be discreet, 
and pay great heed to the place and time, and to the persons 
127 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

v/ith whom we are speaking, and not descend to buffoonery or 
go beyond bounds; — which rules you observe admirably and 
therefore know them all, I think. For in truth it would little 
befit a gentleman to make faces, to weep and laugh, and mimic 
voices, to wrestle with himself as Berto"* does, or dress like a 
clown before everyone, like Strascino,'" — and things of that kind, 
which are very fitting in those men because it is their profession. 

" But for us it is needful to give only a fleeting and covert imi- 
tation, always preserving the dignity of a gentleman, without 
uttering foul words or performing acts that are less than seemly, 
without contorting the face or person beyond measure; but to 
order our movements in such fashion that whoever hears and 
sees us may from our words and gestures imagine far more than 
what he sees and hears, and so be moved to laughter. 

" Moreover in our imitation we ought to avoid too stinging 
jibes, especially at deformities of face or person; for while 
bodily defects often furnish excellent material for laughter to a 
man who uses them with discretion, yet to employ this method 
too bitterly is the act not only of a buffoon but of an enemy. So, 
although it be difficult, in this regard we must, as I have said, 
keep to the manner of our friend messer Roberto, who mimics 
all men and not without marking their defects sharply even to 
their face, and yet no one is annoyed or seems to take it amiss. 
And I will give no instance of this, because in him we see count- 
less examples of it every day. 

51.—" Another thing excites much laughter, although it is in- 
cluded under the head of narration; and that is to describe 
gracefully certain defects of others, — unimportant ones however 
and undeserving greater punishment, such as follies, sometimes 
mere absurdities or sometimes accompanied by a quick and 
pungent dash of liveliness; likewise certain extreme affectations; 
sometimes a huge and well-constructed lie. As when, a few days 
since, our friend Cesare told of a delightful absurdity, which was 
that finding himself before the Podest^ of this place,™ he saw a 
peasant come in to complain of being robbed of a donkey. The 
fellow told of his poverty and of the trick played upon him by 
the thief, and then, to make out his loss the heavier, he said: 
* Masters, If you had seen my donkey, you would have better un- 

128 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

derstood how much cause I have to grieve; for when he had his 
pack on, he looked like a very Tullius.'"" 

" And one of our friends, meeting a flock of goats with a great 
he-goat at their head, stopped and said with a look of admira- 
tion: ' See what a he-goat! He looks like a Saint Paul.'""" 

" My lord Caspar tells of having known an old servant of 
Duke Ercole of Ferrara,"" who off"ered the duke his two sons 
as pages; but before they could begin their service, both the 
boys died. "When the duke heard this, he condoled with the 
father kindly, saying that he was very sorry, for the only time 
when he had seen them, they had seemed to him very pretty 
and gentle boys. The father replied: 'My Lord, you saw no- 
thing; for within the last few days they had grown far hand- 
somer and more virtuous than I could possibly have believed, 
and already they sang together like two sparrow-hawks.' 

" And not long since one of our doctors stood looking at a 
man who had been condemned to be flogged about the piazza, 
and taking pity on him, because (although his shoulders were 
bleeding freely) the poor wretch walked as slowly as if he had 
been out for a stroll to pass the time, the doctor said to him: 
* Step out, poor fellow, and make haste to be done with your 
pain.' Whereat the goodman turned, and gazing at the doctor 
as if amazed, he stood awhile without speaking, and then said: 
' W^hen you come to be flogged, you will go your own gait; so I 
choose to go mine now.' 

" You surely must still remember that absurd story which my 
lord Duke' lately told of a certain abbot, who, being present one 
day when Duke Federico'" was discussing what to do with the 
great mass of earth that had been excavated to lay the founda- 
tions of this palace, which was then building, said: ' My Lord, I 
have thought of an excellent place to put it. Give orders to have 
an immense pit made, and it can be put in without further diffi- 
culty.' Duke Federico replied, not without laughter: 'And 
where shall we put the earth to be dug out of this pit of 
yours?' The abbot continued: 'Have it made large enough to 
hold both.' And so, for all the duke repeated several times that 
the larger the pit was made, the more earth would be dug out 
of it, the man could never get it into his brain that it could not be 
i2g 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

made large enough to hold both, and kept replying: « Make it so 
much the larger.* Now you see what good judgment this abbot 
had." 
52.— Then messer Pietro Bembo said: 

" And why do you not tell the story of your friend the Floren- 
tine commander who was besieged in Castellina*"* by the Duke 
of Calabria? Finding one day some poisoned crossbow missiles 
that had been shot in from the camp, he wrote to the duke that 
if the warfare was to be carried on so barbarously, he too would 
have medicine put on his cannon shot, and then woe to the one 
who had the worst of it.'""" 

Messer Bernardo laughed, and said: 

" Messer Pietro, if you do not hold your peace, I will tell 
all the things I have seen and heard about your dear Vene- 
tians (which are not few), and especially when they try to play 
the horseman." 

" Do not so, I beg of you," replied messer Pietro, " and I 
will keep quiet about two other delightful tales that I know of 
the Florentines."™ 

Messer Bernardo said: 

" They must have rather been Sienese, who often slip in this 
way; as was recently the case with one, who, on hearing some 
letters read in council wherein the phrase ' the aforesaid ' was 
used (to avoid such frequent repetition of the name of the man 
who was spoken of), said to the man who was reading: 'Stop 
there a moment and tell me, is this Aforesaid a friend to our 
commune?'" 

Messer Pietro laughed, then said: 

" I am speaking of Florentines, not of Sienese." 

" Speak out freely then," added my lady Emilia, " and do not 
stand so much on ceremony." 

Messer Pietro continued: 

" When the Florentine Signory was waging war against the 
Pisans,*" they sometimes found their money exhausted by their 
great expenses; and the method of finding money for daily 
needs being discussed in council one day, after many ways had 
been proposed, one of the oldest citizens said: ' I have thought 
of two methods whereby we could soon get a goodly sum of 

130 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

money without much trouble. And one of these is, that since 
we have no revenue greater than from the customs levied at the 
gates of Florence, and since we have eleven gates, let us at once 
have eleven more made, and thus we shall double our revenue. 
The other method is to give orders that the mints be forthwith 
opened in Pistoia and Prato,™* just the same as in Florence, and 
that nothing be done there day and night but mint money, and 
that all the money be ducats of gold; and in my judgment this 
course is the quicker and the less costly.' " 

53— There was much laughter at this citizen's keen sagacity: 
and the laughter being quieted, my lady Emilia said: 

" Messer Bernardo, will you allow messer Pietro to ridi- 
cule the Florentines in this fashion, without returning blow for 
blow?" 

" I forgive him this affront," replied messer Bernardo, still 
laughing, "for if he has displeased me by ridiculing the Floren- 
tines, he has pleased me by obeying you, as I also would always 
do." 

Then messer Cesare said: 

" I heard a delightful blunder made by a Brescian who had 
been at Venice this year for the feast of the Ascension, and in 
my presence was describing to some of his companions the fine 
things that he had seen there; and how much merchandise there 
was, and how much silverware, spices, cloth and stuffs; then the 
Signory went forth with great pomp to wed the sea in the Bucen- 
taur,™ on board of which there were so many finely dressed gentle- 
men, so much music and singing, that it seemed a paradise. And 
on being asked by one of his companions which kind of music he 
liked best among those that he had heard, he said: 'They all were 
good; but among the rest I saw a man playing on a certain strange 
trumpet, which he thrust down his throat more than two palms 
at every flourish, and then he straightway drew it out and thrust 
it down again; so that you never saw a greater marvel.'" 

Then everyone laughed, perceiving the silly mistake of the 
man, who had imagined that the player thrust down his throat 
that part of the trombone which disappears by sliding into itself. 

54 — Messer Bernardo then continued: 

" Moreover common affectations are tedious, but they excite 

131 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

much laughter when they are beyond measure: like those we 
sometimes hear from certain mouths regarding greatness or 
courage or nobility; or sometimes from women, regarding 
beauty or fastidiousness. As was not long since the case with a 
lady who remained sad and abstracted at some great festival; 
and when asked what she was thinking about that should make 
her so gloomy, she replied: 'I was thinking of a matter that 
troubles me greatly whenever it occurs to me, nor can I lift it 
from my heart; and this is, that on the universal Judgment Day, 
when all men's naked bodies must rise and appear before the 
tribunal of Christ, I cannot endure the distress I feel at the 
thought that my body will have to be seen unclothed among the 
rest.' Being extravagant, such affectations as these cause 
laughter rather than tedium. 

"You all are familiar with those splendid lies so well com- 
posed that they move to laughter. A very excellent one was 
but lately told me by a friend of ours who never suffers us to be 
without them." 

55-— Then the Magnifico Giuliano said: 

" Be that as it may, it cannot be more excellent or more inge- 
nious than one which a fellow-Tuscan of ours, a merchant of 
Lucca, affirmed the other day as a positive fact." 

" Tell it to us," added my lady Duchess. 

The Magnifico Giuliano replied, laughing: 

" This merchant, so he tells the story, once finding himself in 
Poland, decided to buy a quantity of sables with the intention of 
carrying them into Italy and making great profit thereby. And 
after much effort, being unable to enter Muscovy himself (by 
reason of the war that was then waging between the King of 
Poland and the Duke of Muscovy), he arranged with the help of 
some people of the country, that on an appointed day certain 
Muscovite merchants should come with their sables to the fron- 
tier of Poland, and he promised to be there in order to strike the 
bargain. Accordingly, proceeding with his companions towards 
Muscovy, the man of Lucca reached the Dnieper, which he 
found all frozen as hard as marble, and saw that the Muscovites 
(who on account of the war were themselves suspicious of the 
Poles) were already on the other bank, but approached no 

133 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

nearer than the width of the river. So, having recognized each 
other, the Muscovites after some signalling began to speak with 
a loud voice, and to ask the price that they wished for their 
sables; but such was the extreme cold that they were not heard, 
for before reaching the other bank (where the man of Lucca 
and his interpreters were) the words froze in the air, and re- 
mained there frozen and caught in such manner that the Poles, 
who knew the custom, set about making a great fire in the very 
middle of the river ; because to their thinking that was the limit 
reached by the warm voice before it was stopped by freezing, 
and the river was quite solid enough to bear the fire easily. So, 
when this was done, the words (which had remained frozen for 
the space of an hour) in due course began to melt and to fall in 
a murmur, like snow from the mountains in May; and thus they 
were at once heard very well, although the men had already 
gone. But as the merchant thought that the words asked too 
high a price for the sables, he would not accept the offer and so 
returned without them.""" 

56 — Thereupon everyone laughed, and messer Bernardo said: 
"Of a truth the story I wish to tell you is not so ingenious; 
however it is a fine one, and runs as follows: 

" Speaking a few days since of the country or World recently 
discovered by the Portuguese mariners,"' and of the various ani- 
mals and other things which they bring back to Portugal, that 
friend of whom I told you affirmed that he had seen a monkey 
of a form very different from those we are accustomed to see, 
which played chess most admirably. And among other occa- 
sions, the gentleman who had brought her, being one day before 
the King of Portugal'" and engaged in a game of chess with 
her, the monkey made several moves so skilfully as to press him 
hard and at last checkmated him. Being vexed, as all are wont 
to be who lose at that game, the gentleman took up the king- 
piece (which was very large, such as the Portuguese use) and 
gave the monkey a smart blow upon the head; whereupon she 
leaped aside crying loudly, and seemed to ask justice of the king 
for the wrong that had been done her. Then the gentleman invited 
her to play again; and after refusing awhile by means of signs, 
she finally began to play once more, and, as she had done the 

133 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

first time, she again had the better of him. At last, seeing that 
she would be able to checkmate the gentleman, the monkey 
tried a new trick to guard against being struck again; and with- 
out showing what she was at, she quietly put her right paw 
under the gentleman's left elbow, which was luxuriously resting 
on a taffety'" cushion, and (quickly snatching the cushion) with 
her left paw she at the same time checkmated him with a pawn, 
while with her right she held the cushion over her head as a 
shield against his blows; she then leaped joyftilly to the king as 
if to parade her victory. Now you see how wise, wary and dis- 
creet the monkey was." 

Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" It must be that this was a doctor among monkeys, and of 
great authority; and I think that the Republic of Indian Mon- 
keys sent her to Portugal to make a name in a foreign land." 

Thereupon everyone laughed, both at the story and at the ad- 
dition given to it by messer Cesare. 

57'— So, continuing the discussion, messer Bernardo said : 

" You have now heard what occurs to me concerning those 
pleasantries that render the effect of a thing by continuous talk; 
therefore it is now well to speak of those that consist in a single 
saying and have a quick keenness compressed into a phrase or 
word. And just as in the first kind, — that of humourous talk,^ 
we must in our narrative and mimicry avoid resembling buffoons 
and parasites and those who make others laugh by their sheer 
absurdities, so in these short sayings the Courtier must take care 
not to appear malicious and spiteful, and not to utter witticisms 
and arguzie solely to annoy and cut to the quick; because for the 
sin of their tongue such men often suffer in all their members. 

58 — " Now of the ready pleasantries that are contained in a 
short saying, those are keenest that arise from ambiguity. Yet 
they do not always move to laughter, for they are oftener ap- 
plauded as ingenious than as comic. As was said a few days 
since by our friend messer Annibal Paleotto*" to someone who 
was recommending a tutor to teach his sons grammar, and who, 
after praising the tutor as very learned, said that by way of sti- 
pend the man. desired not only money but a room furnished for 
living and sleeping, because he had no letto (bed): whereupon 

134 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

messer Annibal at once replied: 'And how can he be learned if 
he has not letto (read)?' You see how well he played upon the 
double meaning of the phrase, non aver letto [to have no bed, or, 
not to have read]. 

" But while this punning witticism has much sharpness, 
where a man takes words in a sense different from that in which 
everyone else takes them, it seems (as I have said) to excite 
wonderment rather than laughter, except when it is combined 
with some other kind of saying. 

" Now that kind of witticism which is most used to excite 
laughter, is when we are prepared to hear one thing and the 
speaker says another, and it is called *the unexpected.' And 
if punning be combined with this, the witticism becomes most 
spicy: as the other day, when there was a discussion about mak- 
ing a fine brick floor (im bel inattonato) for my lady Duchess's 
closet, after much talk you, Giancristoforo, said: ' If we could 
fetch the Bishop of Potenza'" and flatten him out well, it would 
be the very thing, for he is the craziest creature born {il pin bel 
matto nato).' Everyone laughed heartily, for by dividing the 
word matto-nato you made the pun. Moreover saying that 
it would be well to flatten out a bishop and lay him in the floor 
of a room, w^as unexpected to the listener; and so the sally was 
very keen and laughable. 

59-—" But of punning witticisms there are many kinds; 
therefore we must be careful and play very lightly with our 
words, and avoid those that make the sally flat or that seem 
forced; and also those (as we have said) that are too biting. 
As where several companions found themselves at the house 
of one of their friends who was blind of one eye, and the blind 
man bade the company stay to dinner, all took their leave save 
one, who said: 'I will stay with you because I see you have a 
vacant place for one;' and at the same time he pointed with his 
finger to the empty socket. You see this is too bitter and rude, 
for it wounded without cause, and the speaker had not first been 
stung himself Moreover he said that which might be said of all 
blind men; and such universal things give no pleasure, because 
it seems possible that they may have been thought out before- 
hand. And of this kind was that gibe at a man without nose: 

135 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

•And where do you hang your spectacles?"" or * With what do 
you smell the roses in their season?' 

60.—" But among other witticisms those have very good grace 
that are made by taking the very words and sense from another 
man's taunt and turning them against him and striking him with 
his own weapons; as where a litigant — whose adversary had 
said to him in the judge's presence: • Why do you bark so?' — at 
once replied: ' Because I see a thief.' 

"And another instance of this was when Galeotto da Narni,"" 
on his way through Siena, stopped in the street to ask for the 
inn; and a Sienese, seeing how fat he was, said, laughing: 
' Other men carry their wallets behind, but this one carries his in 
front.' Galeotto at once replied: *That is the way we do in a 
land of thieves.' 

61.— "There is still another kind, which we call playing on words,'" 
and this consists in changing a word by either adding or omitting 
a letter or a syllable; as when someone said: 'You are better 
versed in the LatHn tongue than in the Greek.' And you, my 
Lady, had a letter addressed to you, ' To my lady Emilia Im- 
pia."" 

" Moreover it is a pleasant thing to quote a verse or two, ap- 
plying it to a purpose different from that which the author intends, 
or some other familiar saw; sometimes to the same purpose, but 
changing some word. As when a gentleman, who had an ugly 
and disagreeable wife, was asked how he was, he replied : 'Judge 
yourself of my state, when Furiarum maxima juxta me cubat.''^ 
And messer Geronimo Donato,*" while going the rounds of the 
Stasioni'" at Rome in Lent with several other gentlemen, met a 
bevy of beautiful Roman ladies; and one of the gentlemen say- 
ing: ' Quot coelum stellas, tot hahet tua Roma puellas,"^ he at once 
replied: Pascua quotque haedos, tot habet tua Roma cinaedos,^ 
pointing to a company of young men who were coming from the 
other direction. 

"In like fashion messer Marcantonio della Torre*^ addressed 
the Bishop of Padua. There being a nunnery at Padua in 
charge of a friar reputed to be of very pure life and learned 
as well, it came to pass that, as the friar frequented the convent 
familiarly and often confessed the nuns, five of them (more than 

136 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

half of all there were) became pregnant; and the affair being 
discovered, the friar wished to flee but knew not how. The 
bishop had him taken into custody, and he soon confessed that 
he had brought the five nuns to this pass, being tempted of the 
devil; wherefore the bishop was firmly resolved to punish him 
roundly. But as the man was learned, he had many friends who 
all tried to help him, and along with the rest messer Marcantonio 
went to the bishop to implore some measure of pardon for him. 
The bishop would in no wise listen to them; and after they had 
pleaded hard, and recommended the culprit, and urged in ex- 
cuse the opportunities of his position, the frailty of human na- 
ture, and many other things, — at last the bishop said: 'I will 
do nothing for him, because I shall have to render God an 
account of the matter.' And when they repeated their argu- 
ments, the bishop said: 'What answer shall I make to God on 
the Day of Judgment, when he says to me. Give an account of 
thy stewardship?'' ^'^ Then messer Marcantonio at once said: 
' My Lord, say that which the Evangelist says : Lord, thoti 
deliveredst unto me five talents: behold I have gained besides them 
five talents more.'^'^ W^hereupon the bishop could not keep 
from laughing, and greatly softened his anger and the punish- 
ment intended for the offender. 

62.—" It is also amusing to interpret names, and to pretend 
some reason why the man who is spoken of bears such a name, 
or why something is done. As a few days ago, when Proto da 
Lucca"** (who is very amusing, as you know) asked for the 
bishopric of Caglio, the Pope replied: * Knowest thou not that in 
the Spanish tongue caglio means I keep silence? And thou art a 
babbler; wherefore it would be unseemly for a bishop never to 
be able to repeat his title without telling an untruth. So be 
thou silent (caglia) now.' Here Proto made a reply, which, 
although it was not of this sort, yet was not less to the point; for 
having several times repeated his request, and seeing that it was 
of no avail, at last he said: ' Holy Father, if your Holiness grant 
me this bishopric, it will not be without advantage, for I shall 
leave your Holiness two offices (ufficii).' ' And what offices 
have you to leave?' said the Pope. Proto replied: 'The full 
office {ufficio grande), and the Madonna's office {nfficio della 

137 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Madonna):'" Then the Pope could not keep from laughing, 
although he was a very grave man. 

«' Still another man at Padua said that Calfurnio'*' was so 
named because he was accustomed to heat {scaXdarc) ovens 
{forni). And when I one day asked Fedra'" why it was that on 
Good Friday, while the Church oflfered prayer not only for 
Christians but even for pagans and Jews, no mention is made of 
cardinals along with bishops and other prelates, — he answered 
me that cardinals were included in that prayer which says: ' Let 
us pray for heretics and schismatics.' 

" And our friend Count Ludovico said that the reason why I 
censured a lady for using a certain cosmetic that gave a high 
polish, was because I saw myself in her face, when it was 
painted, as in a mirrour; and being ill favoured I could have no 
wish to see myself. 

" Of this kind was that retort of messer Camillo Paleotto"' to 
messer Antonio Porcaro,"*" who, in speaking of a companion 
who told the priest at confession that he fasted zealously, at- 
tended mass and the sacred offices, and did all the good in the 
world, said: 'The man praises himself instead of owning his 
sins;' to which messer Camillo replied: 'Nay, he confesses 
these things because he thinks it a great sin to do them.' 

"Do you not remember what a good thing my lord Prefect 
said the other day? "When Giantommaso Galeotto'" was sur- 
prised at a man's asking two hundred ducats for a horse, be- 
cause, as Giantommaso said, it was not worth a farthing and 
among other defects was so afraid of weapons that no one could 
make it come near them, — my lord Prefect (wishing to twit the 
man with cowardice) said: ' If the horse has this trick of run- 
ning away from weapons, I wonder that he does not ask a thou- 
sand ducats for it.' 

63-—" Moreover the very same word is sometimes employed, 
but in a sense different from the usual one. As when my lord 
Duke,' being about to cross a very rapid river, said to a trum- 
peter: 'Cross over' (passa); and the trumpeter turned cap in 
hand, and said respectfully: 'After your Lordship' {passi la Si- 
gnoria Vostrd). 

"Another amusing kind of banter is where a man takes the 

138 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

speaker's words but not his sense. As was the case this year 
when a German at Rome, meeting one evening with our friend 
messer Filippo Beroaldo,'"" whose pupil he was, said: Domine 
inagister, Deus det vobis honum sero;'^' and Beroaldo at once 
replied: Tibt malum cito™ 

" Again, Diego de Chignones"^ being at the Great Captain's"* 
table, another Spaniard, who was eating with them, said: * Vino,' 
meaning to ask for drink; Diego replied: ' Y no lo conocistes,"*' 
meaning to taunt the man with being a heretic/" 

"Another time messer Giacomo Sadoleto"' asked Beroaldo,** 
who was saying how much he wished to go to Bologna: ' What 
is it that so presses you at this time to leave Rome, where there 
are so many pleasures, to go to Bologna, which is full of tur- 
moil?' Beroaldo replied : ' On three counts I am forced to go to 
Bologna,' and lifted three fingers of his left hand to enumerate 
three reasons for his going; when messer Giacomo quickly in- 
terrupted him and said: 'These three Counts that make you go 
to Bologna are: first. Count Ludovico da San Bonifacio; sec- 
ond. Count Ercole Rangone ; third, the Count of Pepoli.' Where- 
upon everyone laughed, because these three Counts had been 
pupils of Beroaldo, and were fine youths studying at Bologna.'" 

" Now we laugh heartily at this kind of witticism, because it 
carries with it a response different from the one we are expect- 
ing to hear, and in such matters we are naturally amused by our 
very mistake and laugh to find ourselves cheated of what we 
expect. 

64.—" But the modes of speech and the figures that are grace- 
ful in grave and serious talk, are nearly always becoming in 
pleasantries and games as well. You see that words set in op- 
position produce much grace, when one contrasting clause is 
balanced by another. The same method is often very witty. 
Thus a Genoese, who was very prodigal in spending, was re- 
proached by a very miserly usurer, who said to him: ' W^hen 
will you ever cease throwing away your riches?' And he re- 
plied: ' When you cease stealing other men's.' 

" And since, as we have said, the same situations that give op- 
portunity for biting pleasantries may also give opportunity for 
serious words of praise, — it is a very graceful and becoming 

139 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

method in either case for a man to admit or confirm what an- 
other speaker says, but to interpret it in a manner different from 
what was intended. Thus a village priest was saying mass to 
his flock not long since, and after he had announced the festivals 
of the week, he began the general confession in the people's 
name, saying: 'I have sinned by doing evil, by saying evil, by 
thinking evil,' and so forth, making mention of all the deadly 
sins. "Whereupon a friend and close familiar of the priest, in 
order to make sport of him, said to the bystanders: 'Bear wit- 
ness all of you to what by his own mouth he confesses he has 
done, for I mean to report him to the bishop.' 

" This same method was used by Sallaza dalla Pedrada*" in 
complimenting a lady with whom he was speaking. First he 
praised her for her virtuous qualities and then for still being 
beautiful; and she replying that she did not deserve such praise 
because she was already old, he said to her: 'My Lady, your 
only sign of age is your resemblance to the angels, who were the 
first and oldest creatures that God ever made.' 

65.— "Just as serious sayings are useful for praising, in like 
fashion we find great utility also in jocose sayings for taunting, 
and in well arranged metaphors, especially if they take the form 
of repartee, and if he who replies preserves the same metaphor 
used by his interlocutor. And of this kind was the answer made 
to messer Palla degli Strozzi,*"* who being exiled from Florence, 
sent back a servant on a certain matter of business and said to 
him rather threateningly: 'Thou wilt tell Cosimo de' Medici 
from me that the hen is hatching.'*** The messenger did the 
errand commanded him, and Cosimo at once replied without 
hesitation: 'And thou wilt tell messer Palla from me that hens 
cannot hatch well away from their nests.' 

" Again, with a metaphor messer Camillo Porcaro"' gracefully 
praised my lord Marcantonio Colonna;"" who, having heard that 
messer Camillo had been extolling in an oration certain Italian 
gentlemen famous as warriors, and had spoken very highly of 
him among the rest, he expressed his thanks and said: 'Messer 
Camillo, you have treated your friends as some merchants treat 
their money when it is found to contain a false ducat; for in 
order to be rid of it, they put the piece among many good ones, 

140 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

and in this way pass it on. So you, to do me honour (although I 
am of little worth), have put me in company with such worthy 
and excellent cavaliers, that by virtue of their merit I shall per- 
haps pass as good.' Then messer Camillo replied: 'Those who 
forge ducats are wont to gild them so well that they seem to the 
eye much finer than the good ones; so, if there were forgers of 
men as there are of ducats, we should have reason to suspect 
that you were false, being as you are of far finer and brighter 
metal than any of the rest.' 

" You see that this situation gave opportunity for both kinds 
of witticism; and so do many others, of which countless in- 
stances could be given and especially in serious sayings. Like 
the one uttered by the Great Captain, who, being seated at 
table and all the places being already taken, saw that there 
remained standing two Italian cavaliers who had served very 
gallantly in the war; and he at once rose himself and caused all 
the others to rise and make room for these two, saying: 'Allow 
these cavaliers to sit at their meat, for had it not been for them, 
the rest of us should now have no meat to eat.' Another time he 
said to Diego Garzia,'"' who was urging him to retire from a 
dangerous position where the cannon shot were falling: 'Since 
God hath put no fear in your heart, do not try to put any in 
mine.' 

"And King Louis,*" who is to-day king of France, being told 
soon after his accession that then was the time to punish his 
enemies who had so grievously wronged him while he was Duke 
of Orleans, replied that it was not seemly for the King of France 
to avenge the wrongs of the Duke of Orleans. 

66.— "Taunts are also often humourously uttered with a grave 
air and without exciting laughter. As when Djem Othman,*" 
brother to the Grand Turk,""' being a captive at Rome, said that 
jousting as we practise it in Italy seemed to him too great a 
matter for play and too paltry for earnest. And on being told 
how agile and active King Ferdinand the Younger was in run- 
ning, leaping, vaulting, and the like, — he said that in his coun- 
try slaves practised these exercises, while gentlemen studied the 
liberal arts from boyhood, and prided themselves thereon. 

"Almost of the same kind, too, but somewhat more laugh- 
141 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

able, was what the Archbishop of Florence said to the Alexan- 
drian cardinal:*" that men have only their goods, their body, and 
their soul; their goods are put in peril by the lawyers, their 
body by the physicians, and their soul by the theologians." 

Then the Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

"To this you might add what Nicoletto""* said: that we seldom 
find a lawyer who goes to law, a physician who takes physic, or 
a theologian who is a good Christian." 

67.— Messer Bernardo laughed, then went on: 

"Of these there are countless instances, uttered by great lords 
and very weighty men. But we often laugh at similes also, such 
as the one that our friend Pistoia"^ wrote to Serafino: 'Send 
back the wallet that looks like you;' because, if you remember 
rightly, Serafino looked very like a wallet. 

"Moreover there are some who delight to liken men and women 
to horses, dogs, birds, and often to chests, stools, carts, candle- 
sticks; which is sometimes good and sometimes very flat. 
Therefore in this it is needful to consider time, place, persons, 
and the other things that we have mentioned so many times." 

Then my lord Caspar Pallavicino said: 

" An amusing comparison was the one that our friend my lord 
Giovanni Gonzaga** made between Alexander the Great and 
his own son Alessandro."'" 

" I do not know it," replied messer Bernardo. 

My lord Gaspar said: 

" My lord Giovanni was playing with three dice, and as was 
his wont had lost many ducats and was still losing; and his son 
my lord Alessandro (who, although only a lad, is as fond of play 
as the father is) stood looking at him with great attention and 
seemed very sad. Count Pianella,'" who was present with many 
other gentlemen, said: 'You see, my Lord, that my lord Alessan- 
dro is little pleased at your losing, and is waiting anxiously for 
you to win so that he may have some of your winnings. There- 
fore put him out of his misery, and before you lose everything 
give him at least a ducat, in order that he too may go and play 
with his fellows.' Then my lord Giovanni said: 'You are 
wrong, for Alessandro is not thinking of any such trifle. But as 
it is written that when he was a boy, Alexander the Great began 

Z42 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

to weep on hearing that his father Philip"^ had won a great battle 
and subdued some kingdom, and when he was asked why he 
wept, he replied that it was because he feared his father would 
subdue so many lands as to leave nothing for him to subdue; in 
the same way my son Alessandro is now grieving and about to 
weep, seeing that I his father am losing, because he fears I am 
losing so much that I shall leave nothing for him to lose.'" 

68.— After some laughter at this, messer Bernardo continued : 

"Moreover we must avoid impiety in our witticism, (because 
from this it is only a step to try to be jocular by blaspheming 
and to invent new forms of blasphemy); otherwise we seem to 
seek applause by that for which we deserve not only blame but 
heavy punishment, which is an abominable thing. And there- 
fore those of us who like to show their pleasantry by little rever- 
ence to God, deserve to be chased from the society of every 
gentleman. 

" And they, no less, who are indecent and foul of speech, and 
show no respect for ladies' presence and seem to have no other 
pleasure than to make them blush with shame, and who to that 
end are continually seeking witticisms and argusie. As in Fer- 
rara this year at a banquet attended by many ladies, there were 
a Florentine and a Sienese, who are usually hostile, as you 
know. To taunt the Florentine, the Sienese said: * We have 
married Siena to the Emperor and have given him Florence 
for dowry.' He said this because it was reported at the time 
that the Sienese had given the Emperor a certain sum of 
money and that he had taken their city under his protection. 
The Florentine quickly retorted: ' Siena will first be possessed' 
(he used the Italian word, but with the French meaning); 'then 
the dowry will be disputed at leisure."*" You see that the retort 
was clever, but, being made in the presence of ladies, it became 
indecent and unseemly." 

69.— Then my lord Caspar Pallavicino said: 

" Women delight to hear nothing else; and you would deprive 
them of it. Moreover for my part I have found myself blushing 
with shame at words uttered by women far oftener than by 
men." 

" Of such women I was not speaking," said messer Bernardo; 

143 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" but of virtuous ladies, who deserve reverence and honour from 
every gentleman." 

My lord Gaspar said: 

" We should have to invent a subtle rule by which to distin- 
guish them, for most often those who are seemingly the best, in 
fact are quite the contrary." 

Then messer Bernardo said, laughing: 

" If we had not present here my lord Magnifico, who is every- 
where accounted the champion of women, I should undertake to 
answer you; but I am unwilling to do him wrong." 

Here my lady Emilia said, also laughing: 

" Women have need of no champion against an accuser of 
so little weight. So leave my lord Gaspar in his perverse opin- 
ion, — which arises from his never having found a lady to look at 
him, rather than from any fault on their part, — and go on with 
your talk about pleasantries." 

70.— Then messer Bernardo said: 

" In truth, my Lady, methinks I have told of many situations 
from which we can derive sharp witticisms, which then have the 
more grace the more they are accompanied by fine narrative. 
Still many others might be mentioned. As when, by overstate- 
ment or understatement, we say things that outrageously exceed 
the probable; and of this sort was what Mario da Volterra*' 
said of a prelate, that he held himself so great a man that when 
he entered St. Peter's, he stooped in order not to strike his head 
against the architrave of the portal. Again, our friend here the 
Magnifico said that his servant Galpino was so lean and light 
that in blowing the fire to kindle it one morning, the fellow had 
been carried by the smoke all the way up the chimney to the 
very top; but happening to be brought crosswise against one of 
the openings, he had the good luck not to be blown away with 
the smoke. 

" Another time messer Agostino Bevazzano"" said that a miser, 
who had been unwilling to sell his grain while it was dear, after- 
wards hanged himself in despair from a rafter of his bedroom 
when he found that the price had greatly fallen; and one of his 
servants ran in on hearing the noise, saw the miser hanging, and 
quickly cut the rope and thus rescued him from death. Then, 

144 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

having come to himself, the miser insisted that his servant should 
pay him for the rope that had been cut. 

" Of the same sort also seems to be what Lorenzo de' Medici 
said to a dull buffoon: 'You would not make me laugh if you 
tickled me.' And in like fashion he answered another simpleton 
who had found him abed very late one morning, and who had 
reproved him for sleeping so late, saying: *I have already been 
at the New Market and the Old, then outside the San Gallo gate 
and around the walls for exercise, and have done a thousand 
things besides; and you are still asleep?' Then Lorenzo said: 
' W^hat I dreamed in one hour is worth more than what you 
accomplished in four.' 

71.—" It is also fine when in a retort we censure something 
without apparently meaning to censure it. For instance, the 
Marquess Federico of Mantua,"^ father to our lady Duchess, 
being at table with many gentlemen, one of them said after eat- 
ing an entire bowl of stew: ' Pardon me, my lord Marquess;' and 
so saying he began to gulp down the broth that remained. Then 
the Marquess said quickly: 'Ask pardon rather of the swine, 
for you do me no wrong at all.' 

" Again, to censure a tyrant who was falsely reputed to be gen- 
erous, messer Niccolo Leonico'" said: 'Think what generosity 
rules him, for he gives away not his own things only, but other 
men's as well! ' 

72.—" Another very pretty form of pleasantry is that which 
consists in a kind of innuendo, w^hen we say one thing and 
tacitly imply another. Of course I do not mean another thing 
of a completely different kind, like calling a dwarf gigantic and 
a negro white or a very ugly man handsome, for the difference 
is too obvious, — although even these sometimes cause laughter; 
but I mean when with stern and serious air we humourously say 
something in jest which is not our real thought. For instance, 
when a gentleman told a palpable lie to messer Agostino Fogli- 
etta""" and affirmed it stoutly on seeing that he had much difficulty 
in believing it, messer Agostino said at last: ' Fair sir, if I may 
ever hope to receive kindness from you, do me the favour to be 
content even if I do not believe anything you say.' But as the 
other repeated, and under oath, that it was the truth, he finally 

145 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

said: * Since you will have it so, I will believe it for your sake, 
for indeed I would do even a greater thing than this for you.' 

"Don Giovanni di Cardona*" said something nearly of this sort 
about a man who wished to leave Rome: 'To my thinking the 
fellow is ill advised, for he is so great a rascal that by staying on 
at Rome he might in time become a cardinal.' Of this sort also 
is what was said by Alfonso Santacroce,*"' who had shortly be- 
fore suffered some outrage from the Cardinal of Pavia.*" "While 
strolling with several gentlemen near the place of public execu- 
tion outside Bologna, he saw a man who had recently been 
hanged, and turning towards the body with a thoughtful air, he 
said loud enough for everyone to hear him: 'Happy thou, who 
hast naught to do with the Cardinal of Pavia.' 

73 — " And this sort of pleasantry which is tinged with irony 
seems very becoming to great men, because it is dignified and 
sharp, and can be used in jocose as well as in serious matters. 
Hence many ancients (and those among the most esteemed) 
have used it, like Cato and Scipio Africanus the Younger; but 
above all men, the philosopher Socrates is said to have excelled 
in it. And in our own times King Alfonso I of Aragon,""' who, 
being about to eat one morning, took off the many precious 
rings that he had on his fingers, in order not to wet them in 
washing his hands, and so gave them to the first person he 
happened on, almost without looking to see who it was. This 
servant supposed that the king had taken no notice who received 
them, and by reason of weightier cares would easily forget them 
altogether; and in this he was the more confirmed, seeing that 
the king did not ask for them again; and as he saw days, weeks 
and months pass without hearing a word about them, he thought 
he was surely safe. Accordingly, nearly a year after this had 
happened, he presented himself again one morning as the king 
was about to eiat, and held out his hand to receive the rings; 
whereupon the king bent close to his ear and said to him: 'Let 
the first ones suffice thee, because these will do for someone 
else.' You see how biting, clever and dignified the sally was, 
and how truly worthy the exalted spirit of an Alexander. 

74-—" Similar to this manner (which savours of the ironical) is 
another method, that of describing an evil thing in polite terms. 

146 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

As the Great Captain said to one of his cavaliers, who, after the 
battle of Cerignola,"™ when the danger was over, came forward 
in the richest armour possible to describe, accoutered as if for 
battle. And then the Great Captain turned to Don Ugo di Car- 
dona"' and said: 'Have no more fear of storm, for Saint Elmo 
has appeared;' and with this polite speech he stung the man 
to the quick, because you know that Saint Elmo*" always appears 
to mariners after the tempest and gives token of fair weather; 
and thus the Great Captain meant that this cavalier's appear- 
ance was a token that the danger was quite passed. 

"Another time my lord Ottaviano Ubaldini,"' being at Flor- 
ence in the company of some citizens of great influence, and the 
talk being about soldiers, one of them asked him if he knew^ 
Antonello da Forli,"* who had at that time fled from Florentine 
territory. My lord Ottaviano replied: *I do not know him, but 
have always heard him spoken of as a prompt soldier.' Where- 
upon another Florentine said: 'You see how prompt he is, when 
he takes his departure without asking leave.' 

75-— "Those witticisms also are very clever in which we take 
from our interlocutor's lips something that he does not mean. 
And of this kind, methinks, was my lord Duke's reply to the 
castellan who lost San Leo''" when this duchy was taken by 
Pope Alexander and given to Duke Valentino;"" and it was 
this: my lord Duke being in Venice at the time I have men- 
tioned, many of his subjects came continually to give him secret 
news how things were faring in his state; and among the rest 
came this castellan, who, after having excused himself as best he 
could, ascribing the blame to mischance, said: 'Have no anxiety, 
my Lord, because I still have heart to take measures for the re- 
covery of San Leo.' Then my lord Duke replied: 'Trouble 
yourself no more about the matter, for the mere loss of it was a 
measure that rendered its recovery possible.' 

" There are certain other sayings when a man known to be 
clever says something that seems to proceed from foolishness. 
For instance, messer Camillo Paleotto"'' said of someone the 
other day: ' He was such a fool that he died as soon as he began 
to grow rich.' 

" Of like kind with this is a spicy and keen dissimulation, 

147 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

where a man (discreet, as I have said) pretends not to under- 
stand something that he does understand. Like what was said 
by the Marquess Federico of Mantua, who, — being pestered by a 
tiresome fellow who complained that some of his neighbours 
were snaring doves out of his dovecote, and all the while held 
one of them in his hand, hanging dead just as he had found it 
with its foot caught in the snare, — replied that the matter should 
be looked to. The fellow repeated the story of his loss not 
once only but many times, always displaying the dove that had 
been hanged, and saying: 'And what, my Lord, do you think 
ought to be done in this case?' At last the Marquess said: 'I think 
the dove ought on no account to be buried in church, for having 
hanged itself, it must be believed to have committed suicide.'"' 

" Somewhat of the same fashion was the retort made by Scipio 
Nasica'^" to Ennius, Once when Scipio went to Ennius's house 
to speak with him and called him down from the street, one of 
his maids replied that he was not at home; and Scipio distinctly 
heard Ennius himself tell the maid to say he was not at home, 
and so went away. Not long afterwards Ennius came to 
Scipio's house and likewise called to him from below; where- 
upon Scipio himself replied in a loud voice that he was not 
at home. Then Ennius replied: 'How? Do I not know thy 
voice?' Scipio said: 'Thou art too rude. The other day I 
believed thy maid when she said thou wert not at home, and 
'*tiow thou wilt not believe the like from me in person.' 

70 — " It is also a fine thing when a man is struck in the very 
same place where he first struck his fellow. As in the case of 
messer Alonso Carillo,''' who, being at the Spanish court and 
having committed some youthful peccadilloes of no great impor- 
tance, was put in prison by the king's order and left there over- 
night. The next day he was taken out, and so going to the 
palace in the morning, he reached the hall where there were 
many cavaliers and ladies. And as they were laughing at his 
imprisonment, my lady Boadilla'"said: ' Signor Alonso, your mis- 
hap weighed on me heavily, for all your acquaintance thought 
the king would have you hanged.' Then Alonso said quickly: 
' My Lady, I was much afraid of it myself; but then I had hope 
that you would ask me to be your husband.' You see how 

148 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

sharp and clever this was, because in Spain (as in many other 
countries too) the custom is that when a man is led to the gal- 
lows, his life is given him if a public courtesan begs him for her 
husband. 

♦' In this manner also the painter Raphael replied to two car- 
dinals with whom he was on familiar terms, and who (to make 
him talk) were finding fault in his presence with a picture that 
he had painted, — in which St. Peter and St. Paul were repre- 
sented, — saying that these two figures were too red in the face. 
Then Raphael at once said: 'My Lords, be not concerned; 
because I painted them so with full intention, since we have 
reason to believe that St. Peter and St. Paul are as red in 
Heaven as you see them here, for shame that their Church 
should be governed by such men as you."*" 

77.—" Very keen also are those witticisms that have a certain 
latent spice of fun in them. As where a husband was making 
great lament and weeping for his wife, who had hanged herself 
on a fig-tree, another man approached him and plucking him by 
the robe, said: * Brother, might I as a great favour have a small 
branch of that fig-tree to graft upon some tree in my garden?' 

" Some other witticisms need an air of patience and are 
slowly uttered with a certain gravity. As where a rustic, who 
was carrying a box on his shoulders, jostled it against Cato, and 
then said: 'Have a care.' Cato replied: 'Hast thou aught else 
but that chest upon thy shoulders?"*' 

" Moreover we laugh when a man has made a blunder, an«r to 
mend it says something of set purpose that seems silly and yet 
tends to the object he has in view, and thus keeps himself in 
countenance. For instance, in the Florentine Council not long 
ago there were (as often happens in these republics) two ene- 
mies, and one of them, who was of the Altoviti family, fell 
asleep. And although his adversary, who was of the Alamanni 
family, was not speaking and had not spoken, yet to raise a 
laugh the man who sat next Altoviti woke him with a touch of 
the elbow, and said: 'Do you not hear what So and So says? 
Make answer, as the Signors are asking for your opinion,' 
Thereupon Altoviti rose to his feet all drowsy as he was, and 
said without stopping to think: ' My Lords, I say just the oppo- 
149 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

site of what Alamanni said.' Alamanni replied: ' But I said no- 
thing.' • Then,' said Altoviti at once, ' the opposite of whatever 
you may say.' 

•' Of this kind also was what your Urbino physician, master 
Serafino, said to a rustic, who had received a hard blow in the 
eye so that it was forced quite out, yet decided to seek aid from 
master Serafino. On seeing him, although aware that it was 
impossible to cure him, still in order to force money from his 
hands (just as the blow had forced the eye from his head), the 
doctor readily promised to cure him, and accordingly demanded 
money from him every day, affirming that he would begin to 
recover his sight within five or six days. The poor rustic gave 
what little he had; then, seeing that the affair was progressing 
slowly, he began to complain of the physician, and to say that 
he felt no benefit at all and saw no more with that eye than as 
if he had it not in his head. At last master Serafino, seeing that 
he would be able to extort little more from the man, said: 
* Brother, you must have patience. You have lost your eye and 
there is no longer any help for it; and may God grant that you 
do not lose your other eye as well.' On hearing this, the rustic 
began to weep and complain loudly, and said: 'Master, you 
have ruined me and stolen my money. I will complain to my 
lord Duke;' and he made the greatest outcry in the world. 
Then, to clear himself, master Serafino said angrily: 'Ah, 
wretched traitor ! So you would have two eyes, as city-folk and 
rich men have? To perdition with you!' and accompanied 
these words with such fury that the poor rustic was frightened 
into silence and quietly went his way in peace, believing himself 
to be in the wrong. 

78 — "It is also fine to explain or interpret a thing jocosely. As 
when at the court of Spain there appeared one morning in the 
palace a cavalier who was very ugly, and his wife who was very 
beautiful, both dressed in white damask (damasco), — the queen'"^ 
said to Alonso Carillo: 'What think you of these two, Alonso?' 
'My Lady,' replied Alonso, 'I think she is the dama (lady), and 
he is the asco/ which means monster. 

"Another time Rafaello de' Pazzi''* saw a letter which the 
Prior of Messina*** had written to a lady of his acquaintance, the 

150 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

superscription of which read, 'This missive is to be delivered to 
the author of my woes.' ' Methinks,' said Rafaello, 'this letter 
is intended for Paolo Tolosa."* Imagine how the bystanders 
laughed, when everyone knew that Paolo Tolosa had lent the 
Prior ten thousand ducats, and that he, being a great spend- 
thrift, found no means to repay them. 

" Akin to this is the giving of friendly admonition in the form 
of advice, yet covertly. As Cosimo de' Medici did to one of his 
friends, who was very rich but of moderate education and who 
had secured through Cosimo a mission away from Florence. 
When on setting out the man asked Cosimo what course he 
thought ought to be taken in order to do well in the mission, 
Cosimo replied: 'Wear rose-colour,'"' and say little.' Of the 
same kind was what Count Ludovico said to a man who wished 
to travel incognito through a certain dangerous place and knew 
not how to disguise himself; and being asked about it, the count 
replied: 'Dress like a doctor or some other man of sense.' 
Again, Gianotto de' Pazzi"** said to someone who wished to 
make a jerkin of as varied colours as he could find: 'Imitate 
the Cardinal of Pavia in word and deed.' 

79 — "We laugh also at some things that have no connection. 
As when someone said the other day to messer Antonio Rizzo"* 
about a certain man from Forli: 'You may know he is a fool, 
for his name is Bartolommeo.' And another: 'You are looking 
for a Master Stall, and have no horses!' And: 'All the fellow 
lacks is money and brains.* 

" And we laugh at certain other things that seem to have se- 
quence. As recently, when a friend of ours was suspected of 
having had the renunciation ''"' of a benefice forged, upon another 
priest's falling sick, Antonio Torello""' said to our friend: 'Why 
do you delay to send for that notary of yours and see about filch- 
ing this other benefice?' Likewise at some things that have no 
sequence. As the other day, when the pope sent for messer 
Gianluca da Pontremolo and messer Domenico dalla Porta 
(who are both hunchbacks as you know),*™ and made them 
auditors, saying that he wished to set the Wheel right, — messer 
Latino Giovenale™ said: 'His Holiness is in errour if he thinks 
to make the Wheel right with two wrongs {due torti).' 

151 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

80.—" We often laugh also when a man admits everything that 
is said to him and more too, but pretends to take it in a different 
sense. As when Captain Peralta was brought out to fight a duel 
with Aldana, and Captain Molarf^ (who was Aldana's second) 
asked Peralta on his oath if he wore any amulets or charms to 
keep him from being wounded; Peralta swore that he wore no 
amulets or charms or relics or objects of devotion in which he 
had faith. W^hereupon, to taunt him with being a heretic, Mo- 
lart said: 'Do not trouble yourself about it, for without your 
oath I believe you have no faith in Christ himself.' *** 

" Moreover it is a fine thing to use metaphors seasonably in 
such cases. As when our friend master Marcantonio said to Bot- 
tone da Cesena,™ who was goading him with words: ' Bottone, 
Bottone, you will one day be the button {bottone), and your 
button-hole will be the halter.' Another time, master Marcan- 
tonio having composed a very long comedy in several acts, 
this same Bottone said to master Marcantonio: 'To play your 
comedy, all the timber there is in Slavonia will be needed for 
the setting.' Master Marcantonio replied : 'While for the setting 
of your tragedy, three sticks will be quite enough.' ""' 

81.—" We often use a word in which there is a hidden meaning 
remote from the one we seem to intend. As was done by my lord 
Prefect here, on hearing mention of a certain captain who in his 
time had for the most part been defeated but just then had 
chanced to win. And the speaker telling that when the captain 
made his entry into the place in question, he had on a very 
beautiful crimson velvet doublet, which he always wore after 
his victories, my lord Prefect said: ' It must be new.' 

" Nor is there less laughter when we reply to something that our 
interlocutor has not said, or pretend to believe he has done 
something that he has not but ought to have done. As when 
Andrea Coscia,™ having gone to visit a gentleman who rudely 
kept his seat and left his guest to stand, said: ' Since your Lord- 
ship commands me, I will sit down to obey you;' and so sat 
down.™ 

82.—" We laugh also when a man accuses himself of some 
fault humourously. As when I told my lord Duke's chaplain 
the other day that my lord CardinaP™ had a chaplain who said 

15a 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

mass faster than he, he answered me: 'It is not possible;' and 
coming close to my ear, he said: 'You must know, I do not re- 
cite a third of the silent prayers.' 

"Again, a priest at Milan having died, Biagino Crivello*" 
begged his benefice of the Duke,*" who however was minded to 
give it to someone else. At last Biagino saw that further argu- 
ment was of no avail, and said: ' What! After I have had the 
priest killed, why will you not give me his benefice?* 

" It is often amusing also to express desire for those things 
that cannot be. As the other day, when one of our friends saw 
all these gentlemen playing at fence while he was lying on his 
bed, and said: ' Ah, how glad I should be if this too were a fitting 
exercise for a strong man and a good soldier!' 

" Moreover it is an amusing and spicy style of talk, and espe- 
cially for grave and dignified persons, to reply the opposite of 
what the person spoken to desires, but slowly and with a little 
air of doubtful and hesitating deliberation. As was once the 
case with King Alfonso I of Aragon,"™ who gave a servant 
weapons, horses and clothes, because the fellow said he had 
the night before dreamed that his Highness had given him all 
these things; and again not long afterwards the same servant 
said he had that night dreamed that the king gave him a goodly 
sum of gold florins, whereupon the king replied: ' Put no trust in 
dreams henceforth, because they are not true.' Of like sort also 
was the pope's reply to the Bishop of Cervia,*" who said to him 
in order to sound his purpose: 'Holy Father, it is said all over 
Rome, and the palace too, that your Holiness is making me 
governor.' Then the pope replied: 'Let them talk, — they are 
only knaves. Have no fear there is any truth in it.' 

83.—" Perhaps, my Lords, I might collect still many other occa- 
sions that give opportunity for humourous sallies: such as things 
said with shyness, with admiration, with threats, out of season, 
with excessive anger; besides these, certain other conditions 
that provoke laughter when they occur : sometimes a kind of 
wondering taciturnity, sometimes mere laughter itself when 
untimely. But methinks I have now said enough, for I believe 
that pleasantry which takes the form of words does not exceed 
the limits we have discussed. 

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THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Then, as to that which is shown in action, although it has 
numberless forms, it still is comprised under a few heads. But in 
both kinds the main thing is to cheat expectation and reply 
otherwise than the hearer looks for; and if the pleasantry is to 
find favour, it must needs be seasoned with deceit or dissimula- 
tion or ridicule or censure or simile, or whatever other style a 
man chooses to employ. And while pleasantries provoke laugh- 
ter, yet with this laughter they produce divers other effects: for 
some contain a certain elegance and modest pleasantness, others 
a hidden or an open sting, others have a taint of grossness, 
others move to laughter as soon as they are heard, others the 
more they are thought of, others make us blush as well as laugh, 
others rouse a little anger. But in all methods we must consider 
our hearers' state of mind, for to the afflicted jocosity often 
brings greater affliction, and there are certain maladies that are 
aggravated the more medicine is employed. 

" Hence if the Courtier pays heed to time, persons and his 
own rank, in his banter and amusing talk, and uses them not too 
often (for in truth it begets tedium to be harping on this all day, 
in all kinds of converse, in season and out), he may be called a 
man of humour; taking care also not to be so sharp and biting as 
to be thought spiteful, assailing causelessly or with evident ran- 
cour: either those who are too powerful, which is imprudent; or 
those who are too weak, which is cruel; or those who are too 
wicked, which is useless; or saying things to offend those he 
would not offend, which is ignorance. Yet there are some who 
feel bound to speak and assail recklessly whenever they can, let 
the consequence be what it may. And among these last, some 
there are who do not scruple to tarnish the honour of a noble 
lady, for the sake of saying something humourous; which is a 
very evil thing and worthy the heaviest punishment, for in this 
regard ladies are to be numbered among the weak, and so ought 
not to be assailed, since they have no weapons to defend them. 

" Besides these things, he who would be agreeable and amusing 
must have a certain natural aptitude for all kinds of fun, and 
must adapt his behaviour, gestures and face accordingly; and 
the graver and more serious and impassive his face is, the more 
spicy and keen will he make his sallies seem. 

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THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

84 " But you, messer Federico, who thought to take your ease 

under this leafless tree and in my arid talk, I am sure you have 
repented of it and think you have found your way to the Monte- 
fiore Inn.** Therefore it will be well for you, like a practised 
postman, to rise somewhat earlier than usual and take up your 
journey, in order to escape from a bad inn." 

" Nay," replied messer Federico, " I have come to so good an 
inn that I mean to tarry in it longer than I first intended. So I 
shall go on taking my ease until you have finished the whole dis- 
course appointed, of which you have left out one part that you 
mentioned in the beginning — that is, practical jokes; and it is not 
right for you to cheat the company of this. But as you have 
taught us many fine things about pleasantries, and have made us 
bold to use them by the example of so many singular geniuses, 
great men, princes, kings, and popes, — so too in practical jokes I 
think you will give us such daring that we shall venture to try 
some even upon you." 

Then messer Bernardo said, laughing: 

" You will not be the first; but perhaps you may not succeed, 
for I have already endured so many of them that I am on my guard 
against everything, like dogs who are afraid of cold water 
after once being scalded with hot. However, since you will 
have me speak of this also, I think I can despatch it in a few 
words. 

85.—" It seems to me that practical joking is naught else but 
friendly deceit in things that do not offend or that offend only a 
little. And just as in pleasantry it arouses laughter to say some- 
thing contrary to expectation, so in practical joking it arouses 
laughter to do something contrary to expectation. And the 
cleverer and more discreet these jokes are, the more they please 
and are applauded; for he often gives offence who tries to play a 
practical joke recklessly, and afterwards quarrels and serious 
enmities arise in consequence. 

" But the occasions that give opportunity for practical jokes 
are nearly the same as in the case of pleasantries. So not to re- 
peat them, I will merely say that practical jokes are of two 
kinds, each of which kinds might be further divided into classes. 
One kind is where anyone is cleverly tricked in a fine and amus- 

155 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ing manner; the other is where a net is cast, as it were, and 
a little bait is offered, so that the victim himself hastens to be 
tricked, 

" Of the first kind was the joke that two great ladies, whom I 
do not wish to name, lately had played upon them by means of a 
Spaniard called Castillo.""' 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

" And why do you not wish to name them? " 

Messer Bernardo replied: 

" I would not have them take offence." 

My lady Duchess answered, laughing: 

" It is not amiss to play jokes now and then even upon great 
lords. Indeed I have heard of many being played upon Duke 
Federico, upon King Alfonso of Aragon, upon Queen Isabella 
of Spain, and upon many other great princes; and they not 
only did not take offence, but rewarded the perpetrators liber- 
ally." 

Messer Bernardo replied: 

" Not even for the hope of reward will I name those ladies." 

" As you please," answered my lady Duchess. 

Then messer Bernardo went on to say: 

" It is not long since there arrived at the court (of I know 
whom) a Bergamasque rustic on business for a courtier gentle- 
man; and this rustic was so well attired and elegantly ap- 
pointed that, although he had been only used to tend cattle and 
knew no other trade, anyone who did not hear him speak 
would have taken him for a gallant cavalier. Now, being told 
that a Spanish follower of Cardinal Borgia™ had arrived, and 
that he was called Castillo and was exceedingly clever, a mu- 
sician, a dancer, a ballatore,"" and the most accomplished Cour- 
tier in all Spain, — these two ladies were filled with extreme 
desire to speak with him, and straightway sent for him. And 
after receiving him with ceremony, they made him sit down and 
began to speak to him with the greatest distinction before all the 
company; and there were few of those present who did not 
know that the fellow was a Bergamasque cow-herd. So when 
these ladies were seen entertaining him with so much respect 
and honouring him so signally, the laughter was very hearty, 

156 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the more so as the good man spoke his native Bergamasque 
dialect all the while.™* But the gentlemen who played the trick 
had told these ladies in the beginning that he was among other 
things a great joker, and spoke all languages admirably and 
especially rustic Lombard. Thus they continually imagined 
that he was pretending, and they often turned to each other 
with an air of surprise, and said: 'Listen to this prodigy, how 
well he counterfeits the language ! ' In short, the conversation 
lasted so long that everyone's sides ached from laughing; and 
he himself could not help giving so many tokens of his gentility 
that even these ladies were at last convinced, albeit with great 
difficulty, that he was what he was. 

86.— "We meet practical jokes of this kind every day; but 
among the rest those are amusing which at first excite alarm 
and turn out well in the end; for even the victim laughs at 
himself when he sees that his fears were groundless. 

" For instance, I was staying at Paglia *" one night, and in the 
same inn where I was there happened to be three companions 
besides myself (two from Pistoia and the other from Prato), 
who sat down to play after supper, as men often do. They had 
not been playing long before one of the two Pistoians lost all he 
had and was left without a farthing, so that he began to lament 
and to curse and swear roundly; and he retired to sleep blas- 
pheming thus. After gaming awhile, the other two resolved 
to play a trick upon the one who had gone to bed. So, mak- 
ing sure that he was really asleep, they put out all the lights 
and covered the fire; then they began to talk loud and to make 
as much noise as they could, pretending to quarrel over their 
play, and one of them said: 'You've drawn the under card;' 
and the other denied it, saying: 'And you have wagered on four 
of a suit; let us deal again;""' and the like, with such an uproar 
that the sleeper awoke. And perceiving that his friends were 
playing and talking as if they saw the cards, he rubbed his 
eyes a little, and seeing no light in the room, he said: 'What 
the devil do you mean by shouting all night?' Then he lay 
back again as if to go to sleep. 

" His two friends made no reply, but went on as before; 
whereat the man began to wonder (now that he was more 

157 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

awake) and seeing that there was really no fire or glimmer of 
any kind, and that still his friends were playing and quarrelling, 
he said: 'And how can you see the cards without light?' One 
of the two replied: 'You must have lost your sight along with 
your money; don't you see with these two candles we have 
here?' The man who was abed lifted himself upon his arms, 
and said rather angrily: ' Either I am drunk or blind, or you are 
lying.' The two got up and groped their way to the bed, laugh- 
ing and pretending to think that he was making sport of them; 
and still he answered: ' I say I do not see you.' Finally the two 
began to feign great surprise, and one said to the other: 'Alas, 
methinks he speaks the truth. Hand me that candle, and let us 
see if perchance there is something wrong with his sight.' Then 
the poor fellow took it for certain that he had become blind, and 
weeping bitterly he said: 'Oh my brothers, I am blind;' and he 
at once began to call on Our Lady of Loreto, and to implore her 
to pardon the blasphemies and maledictions that he had heaped 
upon her for the loss of his money. His two companions kept 
comforting him, and said: 'It can't be that you do not see 
us; 'tis some fancy you've got into your head.' 'Alas,' replied 
the other, • this is no fancy, for I see no more than as if I had 
never had any eyes in my head.' ' Yet your sight is clear,' re- 
plied the two, and one said to the other: ' See how well he opens 
his eyes! And how bright they are! Who could believe that 
he doesn't see?' The unhappy man wept more loudly all the 
while, and begged mercy of God. 

"At last they said to him: ' Make a vow to go in penance to 
Our Lady of Loreto,"' barefoot and naked, for this is the best 
remedy that can be found; and meanwhile we will goto Acqua- 
pendente'" and those other places hard by to see some doctor, 
nor will we fail to do everything we can for you.' Then the 
poor fellow quickly knelt by his bed, and with endless tears and 
bitter penitence for his blasphemy he made a solemn vow to go 
naked to Our Lady of Loreto, and to offer her a pair of silver 
eyes, and to eat no flesh on Wednesday or eggs on Friday, and 
to fast on bread and water every Saturday in honour of Our 
Lady, if she would grant him the mercy of restoring his sight. 
His two companions went into another room, struck a light, and 

158 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

laughing their very loudest, came back to the unhappy man, 
who was relieved of his great anguish, as you may imagine, but 
was so stunned by the terror that he had passed through, that he 
could neither laugh nor even speak; and his two companions did 
nothing but tease him, saying that he must fulfil all his vows, 
because he had obtained the mercy which he sought. 

87.—" Of the other kind of practical joke, where a man deceives 
himself, I shall give no other example than the one that was 
played on me not very long ago. 

" During the last carnival, my friend Monsignor of San Pietro 
ad Vincula'" (who knows how fond I am of playing tricks on 
the friars when I am masked, and who had carefully arranged 
beforehand what he meant to do) came one day with Mon- 
signor of Aragon '" and a few other cardinals, to certain windows 
in the Banchi,^'' ostensibly for the purpose of seeing the mask- 
ers pass, as the custom is at Rome. I came along in my mask, 
and seeing a friar (somewhat apart) who had a little air of hesita- 
tion, I thought I had found my chance and rushed upon him like 
a hungry falcon on its prey. And first having asked him who 
he was and received his answer, I pretended to know him, and 
with many words began to make him think that the chief con- 
stable was out in search of him (because of certain evil reports 
that had been received against him), and to urge him to go with 
me to the Chancery,"" where I would put him in safety. Fright- 
ened and trembling from head to foot, the friar seemed not to 
know what to do and said he feared being taken if he went far 
from San Celso."' I said so much to encourage him, however, 
that he mounted my crupper; and then I thought I had fully 
succeeded in my scheme. So I at once began to make for the 
Banchi, my horse frisking and kicking the while. Now imagine 
what a fine sight a friar made on a masker's crupper, with cloak 
flying and head tossed to and fro, and looking all the time as if 
he were about to fall. 

" At this fine spectacle those gentlemen began to throw eggs 
on us from the windows, as did all the Banchi people and every- 
one who was there, — so that hail never fell from heaven with 
greater violence than from those windows fell the eggs, most of 
which came on me. Being masked as I was, I did not care and 

159 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

thought that all the laughter was for the friar and not for me; 
and so I went up and down the Banclii several times with this 
fury always at my back, although the friar with tears in his eyes 
begged me to let him dismount and not to shame his cloth in this 
way. Then the knave had eggs given him on the sly by some 
lackeys stationed there for the purpose, and pretending to hold 
me fast to keep from falling, he broke them over my breast, often 
over my head, and sometimes on my very brow, until I was com- 
pletely bedaubed. Finally, when everyone was weary both of 
laughing and of throwing eggs, he jumped off my crupper, and 
pushing back his cowl showed me his long hair, and said: ' Mes- 
ser Bernardo, I am one of the grooms at San Pietro ad Vincula, 
and it is I who take care of your little mule.' 

" I know not which was then greatest, my grief, my anger, or 
my shame. However, as the least of evils, I set out fast for 
home, and dared not make an appearance the next morning; but 
the laughter raised by this trick lasted not only the next day, 
but nearly until now." 

88 — And so, after they had again laughed awhile at the story, 
messer Bernardo continued: 

" There is another very amusing kind of practical joke, which 
gives opportunity for pleasantry as well, when we pretend to 
think that a man wishes to do something which in fact he does 
not wish to do. For instance, one evening after supper, when I 
was on the bridge at Lyons and jesting with Cesare Beccadello '" 
as we walked along, we began to seize each other by the arm as 
if we w^ere bent on wrestling, for by chance no one else ap- 
peared on the bridge at the time. While we were standing thus, 
two Frenchmen came up, and on seeing our dispute they asked 
what the matter was, and stopped to try to separate us, thinking 
that we were quarrelling in earnest. Then I said quickly: ' Help 
me, Sirs, for this poor gentleman loses his reason at certain 
changes of the moon, and you see he is now trying to throw him- 
self off the bridge into the water.' Thereupon these two men 
ran, and with my aid seized Cesare and held him very tight; and 
he, telling me all the while that I was mad, tried harder to free 
himself from their hands, and they held him all the tighter. 
Thus the passers-by gathered to look at the disturbance, and 

i6o 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

everyone ran up. And the more poor Cesare struck out with his 
hands and feet (for he was now beginning to grow angry), the 
more people arrived; and from the great effort that he made, 
they fully believed he was trying to jump into the river, and on 
that account held him the tighter. So that a great crowd of 
men carried him bodily to the inn, all dishevelled, capless, pale 
with anger and shame; for nothing he said availed him, partly 
because the Frenchmen did not understand him, and also partly 
because, as I walked along leading them to the inn, I kept la- 
menting the poor man's misfortune in being thus stricken mad. 

89.—" Now, as we have said, it would be possible to talk at 
length about practical jokes; but suffice it to repeat that the 
occasions which give opportunity for them are the same as in 
the case of pleasantries. Moreover we have an infinity of 
examples because we see them every day. Among others there 
are many amusing ones in the Novelle of Boccaccio, like those 
which Bruno and Buffalmacco played upon their friend Calan- 
drino and upon master Simone,™ and many others played by 
women, that are truly clever and fine. 

" I remember having known in my time many other amusing 
men of this sort, and among others a certain Sicilian student at 
Padua, called Ponzio;'" who once saw a peasant with a pair of 
fat capons. And pretending that he wished to buy them, he 
struck a bargain, and told the fellow to come home with him and 
get some breakfast besides the price agreed on. So he led the 
peasant to a place where there was a bell-tower standing apart 
from its church'" so that one could walk around it; and just 
opposite one of the four sides of the tower was the end of a little 
lane. Here Ponzio, who had already settled what he meant to 
do, said to the peasant: ' I have wagered these capons with one 
of my friends, who says that this tower measures quite forty feet 
around, while I say it does not. And just before I found you, I 
had bought this twine to measure it. Now, before we go home 
I wish to find out which of the two has won.' And so saying, 
he drew the twine from his sleeve, gave one end of it to the 
peasant, and said: 'Hand them here.' Thereupon he took the 
capons, and holding the other end of the twine as if he were 
going to measure, he started to walk around the tower, first 
161 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

making the peasant stay and hold the twine against that side of 
it which was farthest from the one that looked up the little lane. 
When he reached this other side, he stuck a nail into the wall, 
tied the twine to it, and leaving the man there he quietly went 
off with the capons up the little lane. The peasant stood still a 
long time waiting for Ponzio to finish the measurement; at last, 
— after he had several times said: • ^A^hat are you doing there 
so long?' — he went to look, and found that it was not Ponzio 
who was holding the twine, but a nail stuck in the wall, and that 
this was all the pay left him for the capons. Ponzio played 
numberless tricks of this sort. 

" There have also been many other men who were amusing in 
like manner, such as Gonnella, Meliolo in his day,""" and at the 
present time our friends Fra Mariano*" and Fra Serafino" here, 
and many whom you all know. And doubtless this method is 
well enough for men who have no other business, but I think the 
Courtier's practical jokes ought to be somewhat farther removed 
from scurrility. Care must be taken also not to let practical 
joking degenerate into knavery, as we see in the case of many 
rogues, who go through the world with sundry wiles to get 
money, now pretending one thing and now another. Moreover 
the Courtier's tricks must not be too rude; and above all let him 
pay respect and reverence to women in this as in all other 
things, and especially where their honour may be touched." 

go.— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" Indeed, messer Bernardo, you are too partial towards 
women. And why would you have men pay more respect to 
women than women to men? Should not our honour be as dear 
to us, forsooth, as theirs to them? Do you think that women 
ought to taunt men with words and nonsense without the least 
restraint in anything, and that men should quietly endure it and 
thank them into the bargain?" 

Then messer Bernardo replied: 

" I do not say that in their pleasantries and practical jokes 
women ought not to use towards men the same respect which 
we have before described; but I do say they may taunt men 
with unchastity more freely than men may taunt them. And 
this is because we have made unto ourselves a law, whereby 

i6a 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

free living is in us neither vice nor fault nor disgrace, while in 
women it is such utter infamy and shame that she of whom evil 
is once spoken is disgraced forever, whether the imputation™ 
cast upon her be false or true. Wherefore, since speaking of 
women's honour brings such risk of doing them grievous harm, 
I say we ought to attack them in some other way, and to abstain 
from this; because to strike too hard with our pleasantries and 
practical jokes, is to exceed the bounds that we have before said 
are befitting a gentleman." 

91.— As messer Bernardo paused a little here, my lord Ottaviano 
Fregoso said, laughing: 

*' My lord Caspar might answer you that this law ydu refer to, 
which we have made unto ourselves, is perhaps not so unreason- 
able as it seems to you. For since women were very imperfect 
creatures and of little or no worth in comparison with men, and 
since of themselves they were not capable of performing any 
worthy act, — it was necessary by fear of shame and infamy to 
lay upon them a restraint that might impart some quality of 
goodness to them almost against their will. And chastity 
seemed more needful for them than any other quality, in order 
to have certainty as to our offspring; hence it was necessary to 
use every possible skill, art and way to make women chaste, and 
almost to permit them to be of little worth in all things else and 
to do constantly the reverse of what they ought. Therefore, 
since they are allowed to commit all other faults without blame, 
if we taunt them with those defects which (as we have said) are 
all permitted to them and therefore not incongruous in them, 
and of which they take no heed, — we shall never arouse 
laughter; for you said awhile ago that laughter is aroused by 
certain things that are incongruous." 

92 — Then my lady Duchess said : 

" You speak thus of women, my lord Ottaviano, and then you 
complain that they love you not." 

" I do not complain of this," replied my lord Ottaviano, " but 
rather thank them in that they do not, by loving me, force me to 
love them. Nor am I speaking my own mind, but saying that 
my lord Caspar might use these arguments." 

Messer Bernardo said: 
163 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

"Verily it would be a great gain to women if they could con- 
ciliate two such great enemies of theirs as you and my lord 
Gaspar are." 

" I am not their enemy," replied my lord Gaspar, " but you are 
indeed an enemy of men; for if you would not have women 
taunted as to their honour, you ought also to impose on them a 
law that they shall not taunt men for that which is as shame- 
ful to us as unchastity is to women. And why was not 
Alonso Carillo's retort to my lady Boadilla (about hoping to 
escape with his life by being asked to become her husband) as 
seemly in him, as it was for her to say that all who knew him 
thought the king was about to have him hanged? And why was 
it not as allowable for Riciardo Minutoli to deceive Filippello's 
wife and get her to go to that resort, as for Beatrice to make her 
husband Egano'" get out of bed and be cudgelled by Anichino, 
after she had long been with the latter? And for that other 
woman to tie a string to her toe and make her husband believe 
that she was someone else? — since you say that these women's 
pranks in Giovanni Boccaccio are so clever and fine." 

93-— Then messer Bernardo said, laughing: 

" My Lords, as my task was simply to discuss pleasantries, I 
do not mean to go outside my subject. And I think I have 
already told why it does not seem to me befitting to attack 
women in their honour either by word or deed, and have im- 
posed on them as well a rule that they shall not touch men in a 
tender spot. 

" As for the pranks and sallies cited by you, my lord Gaspar, 
I grant that although what Alonso said to my lady Boadilla 
may touch a little on her chastity, it still does not displease me, 
because it is very remote, and is so veiled that it may be taken 
innocently, and the speaker might disguise his meaning and 
declare he had not meant it. He said another that was to my 
thinking very unseemly. And it was this: as the queen''" was 
passing my lady Boadilla's house,"* Alonso saw the door all 
blackened with pictures of those indecencies that are painted 
about inns in such variety; and turning to the Countess of Cas- 
tagneta,™ he said; 'There, my Lady, are the heads of the game 
that my lady Boadilla slays in hunting every day.' You see that 

164 

'\ 

\ 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

while the metaphor is clever and aptly borrowed from hunters 
(who take pride in having many heads of beasts fastened on their 
doors), yet it is scurrilous and disgraceful. Besides which, it 
was not an answer to anything; for it is far less rude to say a 
thing by way of retort, because then it seems to have been pro- 
voked and needs must be impromptu. 

" Returning, however, to the subject of tricks played by women, 
I do not say they do well to deceive their husbands, but I say 
that some of those deceptions (which Giovanni Boccaccio re- 
counts of women) are fine and very clever, and especially those 
which you yourself told. But in my opinion the trick played by 
Riciardo Minutoli goes too far, and is much more heartless than 
the one played by Beatrice; because Riciardo Minutoli did much 
greater wrong to Filippello's wife than Beatrice did to her hus- 
band Egano, for by his deception Riciardo forced the woman's 
will and made her do with herself something that she did not 
wish to do, while Beatrice deceived her husband in order that 
she might do with herself something that pleased her." 

94-— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" Beatrice can be excused on no other plea than that of love, 
which ought to be allowed in the case of men as well as in that 
of women." 

Then messer Bernardo replied: 

" No doubt the passion of love affords great excuse for every 
fault. But for my part I think that a gentleman of worth, who 
is in love, ought to be sincere and truthful in this as in all things 
else; and if it be true that to betray even an enemy is such a 
vile act and abominable crime, consider how much more heinous 
the offence ought to be deemed when it is committed against 
one whom we love. 

" Moreover, I think that every gentle lover endures so many 
toils, so many vigils, braves so many perils, sheds so many tears, 
employs so many means and ways to please the lady of his love, 
— not chiefly in order to possess her person, but to capture the 
fortress of her mind, and to shatter those hardest diamonds, to 
melt that coldest ice, that often are in the tender breast of 
woman. This, I think, is the true and sound pleasure and the 
purposed goal of every noble heart. For myself, were I in love, 

165 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

I certainly should prefer to be assured that she whom I served 
returned my love from her heart and had given me her mind, — 
without ever having any other satisfaction from her, — than to 
enjoy her to the full against her will; for in such case I should 
deem myself the master of a lifeless body. Hence they who 
pursue their desires by means of such trickery, which might 
perhaps be called treachery rather than trickery, do injury to 
others; nor have they yet that bliss which is to be desired in 
love, if they possess the body without the will. 

" The same I say of certain others who use enchantments in 
their love, charms and sometimes force, sometimes sleeping 
potions and such like things. Be assured, too, that gifts much 
lessen the pleasures of love; for a man may suspect that he is 
not loved and that his lady makes a show of loving him in order 
to profit by it. Hence you see that great ladies' love is prized 
because it could hardly spring from other source than real and 
true affection, nor is it credible that a great lady should ever 
pretend to love one of her inferiors unless she loves him truly." 

95-— Then my lord Caspar replied: 

•' I do not deny that the purpose, toils and dangers of lovers 
ought to have their aim directed chiefly towards the conquest of 
the mind rather than of the body of their beloved. But I say 
that these deceits, which you call treachery in men and trickery 
in women, are excellent means of attaining this aim, for whoever 
possesses a woman's person is master of her mind as well. And 
if you remember rightly, Filippello's wife, after much lament 
over the deceit practised on her by Riciardo, discovered how 
much more delicious than her husband's were the kisses of her 
lover, and her coldness to Riciardo changed to sweet affection, 
so that from that day forth she loved him most tenderly. Thus 
it came about that what his frequent fond visits, his gifts and 
countless other tokens shown unceasingly, could not affect, a 
taste of his embraces soon accomplished. You now see that this 
same trickery, or treachery as you would call it, was a good way 
to capture the fortress of her inind." 

Then messer Bernardo said: 

"You advance a very false premise, for if women always sur- 
rendered their mind to the man who possessed their person, no 

i66 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

wife would be found who did not love her husband more than 
every other person in the world; the contrary of which we find 
to be the case. But Giovanni Boccaccio was very unjustly hostile 
to women, as you are also.'"" 

96.— My lord Gaspar replied: 

" I am not at all hostile to them; but there are very few men 
of worth who as a rule make any account of women whatever, 
although for their own purposes they sometimes pretend the 
contrary." 

Then messer Bernardo replied: 

" You wrong not women only, but also all men who hold them 
in respect. However, as I said, I do not wish for the present to 
go outside my original subject of practical joking, and enter 
upon so difficult an enterprise as would be the defence of women 
against you, who are a most redoubtable warrior. So I will 
make an end of this talk of mine, which has perhaps been far 
longer than was necessary, and certainly less amusing than you 
expected. And since I see the ladies sit so quiet, enduring your 
insults thus patiently as they do, I shall henceforth regard a part 
of what my lord Ottaviano said as true, namely, that they care 
not what other evil is said of them, provided they be not taunted 
with lack of chastity,^ 

Then at a signal from my lady Duchess, many of the ladies 
rose to their feet, and all ran laughing towards my lord Gaspar, 
as if to shower blows upon him and treat him as the bacchants 
treated Orpheus,'**— meanwhile saying: 

" You shall see now whether we care if evil be said of us." 

97-— Thus, partly because of the laughter and partly because 
everyone rose to his feet, the drowsiness that had seized the 
eyes and mind of some, seemed to flee away; but my lord 
Gaspar began to say: 

" You see that being in the wrong, they would fain use force 
and thus end the discussion by giving us a Braccesque leave, as 
the saying is."'^ 

Then my lady Emilia replied: 

" Nay, that shall not help you; for when you saw messer Ber- 
nardo wearied by his long talk, you began to say all manner of 
evil about women, thinking to have no antagonist. But we 
167 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

shall put a fresh champion in the field to fight you, to the end 
that your offence may not go long unpunished." 

So, turning to the Magnifico Giuliano, who had thus far 
spoken little, she said: 

'* You are accounted the defender of women's honour; where- 
fore the time has come for you to show that you have not ac- 
quired this title falsely. And if hitherto you have ever found 
profit in your office, you ought now to consider that by putting 
down so bitter an enemy of ours, you will render all women still 
more beholden to you, so much so that although nothing else be 
ever done but requite you, yet the obligation must always stand 
and can never fully be requited." 

98.— Then the Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" My Lady, methinks you do your enemy much honour, and 
your defender very little; for so far my lord Caspar has certainly 
said nothing against women that messer Bernardo has not most 
consummately answered. And I believe we all know that it is 
fitting for the Courtier to show women the greatest reverence, 
and that he who is discreet and courteous must never taunt 
them with lack of chastity, either in jest or in earnest. There- 
fore, to discuss such obvious truth as this, is almost to cast doubt 
upon that which is undoubted. But indeed I think my lord 
Ottaviano went rather tpo far when he said that women are 
very imperfect creatures; incapable of any worthy action, and 
possessed of little or no aignity in comparison with men. And 
as trust is often placed in those who have great authority, even 
when they say what is not the exact truth and also when they 
speak in jest, — my lord Caspar suffered himself to be led by my 
lord Ottaviano's words to say that wise men make no account 
of women whatever, which is most false. On the contrary, I 
have known very few men of merit who did not love and hon- 
our women, — whose worth (and so whose dignity) I regard as 
in no wise inferior to men's. 

" Yet if this were to be the subject of dispute, women's cause 
would be at serious disadvantage; because these gentlemen 
have described a Courtier so excellent and of such heavenly 
accomplishments, that whoso undertook to consider him as they 
have pictured him, would imagine that women's merits could 

168 




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UNICUS ARETINUS 
Bernardo Accoltl 



JO. CHRISTOFANO ROMANO 



VINCENTIO CALMETA 



NICOLO PHRYSIO 



SERAPHINO 



AUTOGRAPH SIGNATURES OF INTERLOCUTORS 

From negatives, made by Signor Lanzoni, from originals preserved in the Royal State 
Archivea at Mantua and selected by the Director, Signor Alessandro Luzlo. 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

not attain that pitch. But if the contest were to be fair, we 
should first need to have someone as clever and eloquent as 
Count Ludovico and messer Federico are, to describe a Court 
Lady with all the perfections proper to woman, just as they have 
described the Courtier with the perfections proper to man. And 
then, if he who defended their cause were of only moderate 
cleverness and eloquence, I think that with truth for ally, he 
would clearly prove that women are as full of virtue as men 
are. 

" Nay," replied my lady Emilia, *' far more so; and in proof of 
this, you see that virtue (Ja virtu) is feminine, and vice (il visio) 
is masculine.'"" 

99— Then my lord Caspar laughed, and turning to messer 
Niccolo Frisio, said: 

" What think you of this, Frisio?" 

Frisio replied: 

" I am sorry for my lord Magnifico, who has been beguiled by 
my lady Emilia's promises and soft words into the errour of say- 
ing that which I blush for on his behalf." 

My lady Emilia replied, still laughing: 

" You will be ashamed rather of yourself, when you see my 
lord Caspar confuted, confessing his own and your errour, and 
imploring a pardon that we shall refuse to grant him." 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

'* As the hour is very late, let the whole matter be postponed 
until to-morrow; especially since it seems to me wise to follow 
my lord Magnifico's counsel, which is: that before we enter 
upon this controversy, a Court Lady be described with all her 
perfections, just as these gentlemen have described the perfect 
Courtier." 

Then my lady Emilia said: 

" My Lady, God forbid that we chance to entrust this task to 
any fellow-conspirator of my lord Gaspar, who will describe us 
a Court Lady that can do naught but cook and spin." 

Frisio said: 

" But this is her proper calling." 

Then my lady Emilia said: 

" I am willing to trust my lord Magnifico, who will (with the 
i6g 



THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

cleverness and good sense which I know are his) imagine the 
highest perfection that can be desired in woman, and will set it 
forth in beautiful language too; and then we shall have some- 
thing to offer against my lord Caspar's false aspersions." 

100.—" My Lady," replied the Magnifico, " I am not sure how 
\vell advised you are to impose on me an enterprise of such 
weight that I really do not feel myself sufficient for it. Nor am 
I like the Count and messer Federico, who have with their elo- 
quence described a Courtier that never was and perhaps never 
can be. Still, if it pleases you to have me bear this burden, at 
least let it be upon the same conditions as in the case of these 
other gentlemen, namely: that ^veryone jnay contradict me 
when he pleases; for I shall take it, not as contradiction/but as^ 
add; and perhaps by the correction of my mistakes we shall dis- 
cover that perfection of the Court Lady which we seek." 

" I hope," replied my lady Duchess, " that your talk will be of 
such sort that little may be found in it to contradict. So give 
your whole mind to it, and describe for us such a woman that 
these adversaries of ours shall be ashamed to sliy~she is not 
equal in worth to the Courtier; of whom it will be well for mes- 
ser Federico to say no more, since the Courtier has been only too 
well adorned by him, especially as there is now need to give 
him a paragon in woman." 

Then messer Federico said: 

•' My Lady, little or nothing is now left for me to tell about the 
Courtier; and what I thought of saying has been driven from 
my mind by messer Bernardo's pleasantries." 

" If that be so," said my lady Duchess, " let us come together 
again early to-morrow, and we shall have time to attend to both 
matters." 

Thereupon all rose to their feet, and having reverently taken 
leave of my lady Duchess, everyone went to his own room. 



170 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 
BY COUNT BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE 

TO MESSER ALFONSO ARIOSTO 

!•— We read that Pythagoras very ingeniously and cleverly 
discovered the measure of Hercules'sbody; and the way was this: 
it. being known that the space where the Olympic games were 
celebrated every five years, before the temple of Olympian Jove 
near Elis, in Achaia,™ had been measured by Hercules, and a 
stadium made six hundred and twenty-five times the length of 
his own foot; and that the other stadia which were afterwards 
established throughout Greece by later generations, were like- 
wise of the length of six hundred and twenty-five feet, and yet 
were somewhat shorter than the first one: by this proportion 
Pythagoras easily reckoned how much larger Hercules's foot 
was than other human feet; and thus, knowing the measure of 
the foot, from this he argued that the whole body of Hercules 
was larger than other men's in the same proportion that the 
first stadium bore to the other stadia. 

So you, my dear messer Alfonso, by the same reasoning may 
clearly see, from this small part of the whole body, how superior 
the court of Urbino was to all others in Italy, considering how 
much the games that were devised for the refreshment of minds 
wearied by the most arduous labours, were superior to those 
that were practised in the other courts of Italy. And if these 
were of such sort, think what were the other worthy pursuits to 
which our minds were bent and wholly given; and of this I con- 
fidently make bold to speak with hope of being believed; for I 
am not praising things so ancient that I might be allowed to 
invent, but can prove what I affirm by the testimony of many 
men worthy of faith, who are still living and personally saw and 
knew the life and behaviour that one time flourished in that 
court: and I hold myself bound, as far as I can, to strive with 
every effort to rescue this bright memory from mortal oblivion, 
and by my writing to make it live in the hearts of posterity. 
171 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Wherefore perhaps in the future there will not be lacking 
some to envy our century for this also; since no one reads the 
wonderful exploits of the ancients, who in his mind does not 
conceive a somewhat higher opinion of those that are written of 
than the books themselves seem able to express, however divinely 
they be written. Even so we desire that all to whose hands this 
work of ours shall come (if indeed it shall ever be worthy of such 
favour as to deserve being seen by noble cavaliers and virtuous 
ladies) may assume and take for certain that the court of Urbino 
was far more excellent, and adorned by men of singular worth, 
than we can express in writing; and if we had as great elo- 
quence as they had merit, we should have no need of other proof 
to make our words believed by those who saw it not. 

2.— Now the company being assembled the next day at the 
accustomed hour and place, and seated in silence, everyone 
turned his eyes to messer Federico and to the Magnifico Giuli- 
ano, waiting to see which of them would begin the discussion. 
Wherefore my lady Duchess, having been silent awhile, said: 

" My lord Magnifico, everyone desires to see this lady of yours 
well adorned; and if you do not display her to us in such fashion 
that all her beauties may be seen, we shall think that you are 
jealous of her." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" My Lady, if I deemed her beautiful, I should display her all 
unadorned and in the same fashion wherein Paris chose to view 
the three goddesses;™ but if these ladies here, who well know 
how, do not aid me to deck her forth, I fear that not only my 
lord Caspar and Frisio, but all these other gentlemen, will have 
just cause to say ill of her. So, while still she stands in some 
repute for beauty, perhaps it will be better to keep her hidden, 
and to see what messer Federico has left to say about the Cour- 
tier, which without doubt is far more beautiful than my Lady 
can be." 

" What I had in mind," replied messer Federico, " is not so 
necessary to the Courtier that it may not be omitted without 
any harm; nay, it is rather different matter from that which has 
thus far been discussed." 

■"And what is it, then?" said my lady Duchess. 

172 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Messer Federico replied: 

" I had thought of explaining, as far as I could, the origin of 
these companies and orders of knighthood established by great 
princes under different ensigns: as that of Saint Michael in the 
House of France;™ that of the Garter, which bears the name of 
Saint George, in the House of England;"" the Golden Fleece in 
that of Burgundy :'* and in what manner these dignities are 
bestowed, and how they who deserve them are deprived thereof; 
whence they arose, who were the founders of them, and to what 
end they were established: for even in great courts these knights 
are always honoured. 

" I thought too, if I had time enough, to speak not only of the 
diversity of customs that are in use at the courts of Christian 
princes in serving them, in merry-making and in appearing at 
public shows, but also to say something of the Grand Turk's'^ 
court, and much more particularly of the court of the Sophi 
king of Persia.'*' For having heard, from merchants who have 
been long in that country, that the noblemen there are of great 
worth and gentle behaviour, and that in their intercourse with 
one another, in their service to ladies and in all their actions, 
they practise much courtesy and much discretion, and on occa- 
sion much magnificence, much liberality and elegance in their 
weapons, games and festivals, — I was glad to learn what ways 
they most prize in these things, and in what their pomp and 
finery of dress and arms consist; in what they differ from us, and 
in what they resemble us; what manner of amusements their 
ladies practise and with what modesty show favour to lovers. 

" But indeed it is not fitting to enter upon this discussion now, 
especially as there is something else to say, and far more to our 
purpose than this." 

3.—" Nay," said my lord Gaspar, " both this and many other 
things are more to the purpose than to describe this Court Lady; 
seeing that the same rules that are set the Courtier, serve also 
for the Lady; for she, like the Courtier, ought to have regar^ to 
time and place, and (as far as her stupidity permits) to follow 
all those other ways that have been so much discussed. And 
therefore, in place of this, perhaps it would not have been amiss 
to teach some of the details that pertain to the service of the 

173 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Prince's person, for it is well befitting the Courtier to know them 
and to show grace in practising them; or indeed to tell of the 
method to be pursued in bodily exercises, such as riding, han- 
dling weapons and wrestling, and to tell wherein consists the 
difficulty of these accomplishments." 

Then my lady Duchess said, laughing: 

" Princes do not employ the personal service of so admirable a 
Courtier as this: and as for bodily exercises and physical strength 
and agility, we will leave to our friend messer Pietro Monte 
the duty of teaching them, when he shall deem the season more 
convenient; for now the Magnifico must speak of nothing but 
this Lady, of whom, methinks, you are already beginning to be 
afraid, and so would make us wander from our subject." 

Frisio replied: 

" Surely it is irrelevant and little to the purpose to speak of 
women now, especially when more remains to be said about the 
Courtier, for we ought not to mix one thing with another." 

"You are much in errour," replied messer Cesare Gonzaga; 
" for just as no court, however great it be, can have in it adorn- 
ment or splendour or gaiety, without ladies, nor can any Cour- 
tier be graceful or pleasing or brave, or perform any gallant feat 
of chivalry, unless moved by the society and by the love and 
pleasure of ladies: so, too, discussion about the Courtier is always 
very imperfect, unless by taking part therein the ladies add their 
touch of that grace wherewith they perfect Courtiership and 
adorn it." 

My lord Ottaviano laughed, and said: 

"There you have a taste of that bait which makes men fools." 

4-— Then my lord Magnifico, turning to my lady Duchess, said: 

" Since so it pleases you, my Lady, I will say what occurs to 
me, but with very great fear of not satisfying. And in sooth it 
would be a far lighter task to describe a lady worthy to be 
queen of the world, than a perfect Court Lady : because of the 
latter I know not where to take my model; while for the queen 
I should not need to go far, and it would be enough for me to 
think of the divine accomplishments of a lady whom I know,"* 
and, lost in contemplation, to bend all my thoughts to express 
clearly in words that which many see with their eyes; and if I 

174 




f ;^ 



GIULIANO DE' MEDICI 

"MY LORD MAGNIFICO" 

1479-1516 

From Alinari'a photograph (no. 359) of the portrait, in the UfSzi Gallery at Florence, 
painted by Alessandro AUori (1535- 1607), and believed to be a copy of an earlier por- 
trait by Raphael. 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

could do no more, by merely naming her I should have per- 
formed my task." 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

" Do not wander from your subject, my lord Magnifico, but 
hold to the order given you and describe the Court Lady, to the 
end that so noble a Lady as this may have someone competent 
to serve her worthily." 

The Magnifico continued: 

" Then, my Lady, to show that your commands have power to 
induce me to essay even that which I know not how to do, I will 
speak of this excellent Lady as I would have her; and when I 
have fashioned her to my liking, not being able then to have 
another such, like Pygmalion I will take her for my own."* 

"And although my lord Gaspar has said that the same rules 
which are ^set the C ourt ier, se r ve also for the Lady. I a m of 
another mindj for while some qualities are common to both and 
as necessary lo man asTo woman, there are neveftHeless some 
others that befit woman more than man, and some are befitting_ 
man to which she ought to be wholly a stranger. The same I 
say of bodily exercises; but above all, methinks that in her ways, 
manners, words, gestures and bearing, a woman ought to be 
very unlike a man; for just as it befits him to show a certain 
stout and sturdy manliness, so it is becoming in a woman to 
have a soft and dainty tenderness with an air of womanly sweet- 
ness in her every movement, which, in her going or staying or 
saying what you will, shall always make her seem the woman, 
without any likeness of a man. 

"Now, if this precept be added to the rules that these gentle- 
men have taught the Courtier, I certainly think she ought to be 
able to profit by many of them, and to adorn herself with admir- 
able accomplishments, as my lord Gaspar says. For I believe 
that many faculties of the mind are as necessary to woman as to 
man; likewise gentle birth, to avoid affectation, to be naturally 
graceful in all her doings, to be mannerly, clever, prudent, not 
arrogant, not envious, not slanderous, not vain, not quarrel- 
some, not silly, to know how to win and keep the favour of her 
mistress and of all others, to practise well and gracefully the 
exercises that befit women. I am quite of the opinion, too, that 

175 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

beauty is more necessary to her than to the Courtier, for in truth 
that woman lacks much who lacks beauty. Then, too, she ought 
to be more circumspect and take greater care not to give occa- 
sion for evil being said of her, and so to act that she may not 
only escape a stain of guilt but even of suspicion, for a woman 
has not so many ways of defending herself against false imputa- 
tions as has a man. 

•'But as Count Ludovico has explained very minutely the 
chief profession of the Courtier, and has insisted it be that of 
arms, methinks it is also fitting to tell what in my judgment is 
that of the Court Lady : and when I have done this, I shall think 
myself quit of the greater part of my duty. 

5-—" Laying aside, then, those faculties of the (^in^ that she 
ought to have in common with the Courtier (such as prudence, 
magnanimity^ c ontinence, and many others), and likewise those 
qualities that befit all women (such as kindness, discretion, abil- 
ity to manage her husband's property and her" house and chil- 
dren if she be married, and all those capacities that are requisite 
in a good housewife), I say that in a lady who lives at court 
methinks above all else a certain pleasant affability is befitting, 
whereby she may be able to entertain politely every sort of man 
with agreeable and seemly converse, suited to the time and 
place, and to the rank of the person with whom she may speak, 
uniting with calm and modest manners, and with that seemliness 
which should ever dispose all her actions, a quick vivacity of 
spirit whereby she may show herself alien to all indelicacy; but 
with such a kindly manner as shall make us think her no less 
chaste, prudent and benign, than agreeable, witty and discreet: 
and so she must preserve a certain mean (difficult and composed 
almost of contraries), and must barely touch certain limits but 
not pass them. 

" Thus, in her wish to be thought good and pure, the Lady 
ought not to be so^^coyand seem so to abhor comp^any and talk 
that are a little free, as to take her leave as soon as she finds 
herself therein; for it might easily be thought that she was pre- 
tending to be thus austere in order to hide something about her- 
self which she feared others might come to know; and such 
prudish manners are always odious. Nor ought she, on the 

176 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

other hand, for the sake of showing herself free and agreeable, 
to utter unseemly words or practise a certain wild and unbridled 
familiarity and ways likely to make that believed of her which 
perhaps is not true; but when she is present at such talk, she 
ought to listen with a little blush and shame. 

" Likewise she ought to avoid an errour into which I have 
seen many women fall, which is that of saying and of willingly 
listening to evil about other women. For those women who, on 
hearing the unseemly ways of other women described, grow 
angry thereat and seem to disbelieve it and to regard it almost 
monstrous that a woman should be immodest, — they, by account- 
ing the offence so heinous, give reason to think that they do not 
commit it. But those who go about continually prying into 
other women's intrigues, and narrate them so minutely and with 
such zest, seem to be envious of them and to wish that every- 
one may know it, to the end that like matters may not be reck- 
oned as a fault in their own case; and thus they fall into certain 
laughs and ways that show they then feel greatest pleasure. 
And hence it comes that men, while seeming to listen gladly, 
usually holdsuc h wo men in small j^espect and have very little 
regard for them, and think these ways of theirs are an invitation 
to advance farther, and thus often go such lengths with them as 
bring them deserved reproach, and finally esteem them so lightly 
as to despise their company and even find them tedious. 

" And on the other hand, there is no man so shameless and 
insolent as not to have reverence for those women who are 
esteemed good and virtuous; because this gravity (tempered 
with wisdom and goodness) is as it were a shield against the 
insolence and coarseness of the presumptuous. Thus we see 
that a word or laugh or act of kindness (however small it be) 
from a virtuous woman is more prized by everyone, than all the 
endearments and caresses of those who show their lack of 
shame so openly; and if they are not immodest, by their un- 
seemly laughter, their loquacity, insolence and like scurrile man- 
ners, they give sign of being so. 

6 — " And since words that carry no meaning of importance are 
vain and puerile, the Court Lady must have not only the good 
sense to discern the quality of him with whom she is speaking, 
177 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

but knowledge of many things, in order to entertain him gra- 
ciously; and in her talk she should know how to choose those 
things that are adapted to the quality of him with whom she is 
speaking, and should be cautious lest occasionally, without 
intending it, she utter words that may offend him. Let her 
guard against wearying him by praising herself indiscreetly or 
by being too prolix. Let her not go about mingling serious 
matters with her playful or humourous discourse, or jests and 
jokes with her serious discourse. Let her not stupidly pretend 
to know that which she does not know, but modestly seek to 
do herself credit in that which she does know, — in all things 
avoiding affectation, as has been said. In this way she will be 
adorned with good manners, and will perform with perfect grace 
the bodily exercises proper to women; her discourse will be 
rich and full of prudence, virtue and pleasantness; and thus she 
will be not only loved but revered by everyone, and perhaps 
■worthy to be placed side by side with this great Courtier as well 
in qualities of the mind as in those of the body." 

7-— Having so far spoken, the Magnifico was silent and sat 
quiet, as if he had ended his discourse. Then my lord Caspar said : 

" Verily, my lord Magnifico, you have adorned this Lady well 
and given her excellent qualities. Yet methinks you have kept 
much to generalities, and mentioned some things in her so 
great that I think you were ashamed to explain them, and have 
rather desired than taught them, after the manner of those 
who sometimes wish for things impossible and beyond nature. 
Therefore I would have you declare to us a little better what 
are the bodily exercises proper to a Court Lady, and in what 
way she ought to converse, and what those marty things are 
whereof you say it befits her to have knowledge; and whether 
you mean that she should use the prudence, the magnanimity, 
the continence, and the many other virtues you have named, 
merely to aid her in the government of her house, children and 
family (which however you would not have her chief profession), 
or indeed in her conversation and graceful practice of those 
bodily exercises; and, by your faith, guard against setting these 
poor virtues to such menial duty that they must needs be ashamed 
of it." 

178 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

The Magnifico laughed, and said: 

" My lord Caspar, you cannot help showing your ill will to- 
wards women. But in truth I thought I had said enough, and 
especially before such hearers; for I am quite sure there is no 
one here ^ho does not perceive that in the matter of bodily 
exercises it does not befit women to handle weapons, to ride, to 
play tennis, to wrestle, and to do many other things that befit 
men." 

Then the Unico Aretino said: 

"Among the ancients it was the custom for women to wrestle 
unclothed with men; but we have lost this good custom, along 
with many others." 

Messer Cesare Gonzaga added: 

" And in my time I have seen women play tennis, handle wea- 
pons, ride, go hunting, and perform nearly all the exercises that 
a cavalier can." 

8 The Magnifico replied: 

" Since I may fashion this Lady as I wish, not only am I un- 
willing to have her practise such vigourous and rugged manly 
exercises, but I would have her practise even those that are be- 
coming to women, circumspectly and with that gentle daintines s 
which we have said befits her; and thus in dancing I would ;riot3' 
see her use too active and violent movements, nor in singing or 
playing those abrupt and oft-repeated diminutions which show 
more skill than sweetness; likewise the musical instruments 
that she uses ought, in my opinion, to be appropriate to this in- 
tent. Imagine how unlovely it would be to see a woman play 
drums, fifes or trumpets, or other like instruments; and this be- 
cause their harshness hides and destroys that mild gentleness 
which so much adorns every act a woman does. Therefore 
when she starts to dance or make music of any kind, she ought 
to bring herself to it by letting herself be urged a little, and with 
a touch of shyness which shall show that noble shame which is 
the opposite of effrontery. 

" Moreover, she ought to adapt her dress to this intent, and so 

to clothe herself that she may not seem vain or frivolous. But 

since women may and ought to take more care for beauty than 

men, — and there are divers sorts of beauty, — this Lady ought to 

179 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

have the good sense to discern what those garments are that 
enhance her grace and are most appropriate to the exercises 
wherein she purposes to engage at the time, and to wear them. 
And if she is conscious of possessing a bright and cheerful 
beauty, she ought to set it off with movements, words and dress 
all tending towards the cheerful; so too, another, who feels that 
her style is gentle and serious, ought to accompany it with fash- 
ions of that sort, in order to enhance that which is the gift of 
nature. Thus, if she is a little more stout or thin than the me- 
dium, or fair or dark, let her seek help from dress, but as co- 
vertly as possible; and while keeping herself dainty and neat, 
let her always seem to give no thought or heed to it. 

9 — "And since my lord Caspar further asks what these many 
things are whereof she ought to have knowledge, and in what 
manner she ought to converse, and whether her virtues ought 
to contribute to her conversation, — I say I would have her ac- 
quainted with that which these gentlemen wished the Courtier 
to know. And of the exercises that we have said do not befit 
her, I would have her at least possess such understanding as we 
may have of things that we do not practise; and this in order 
that she may know how to praise and value cavaliers more or 
less, according to their deserts. 

"And to repeat in a few words part of what has been already 
said, I wish this Lady to have knowledge of letters, music, paint- 
ing, and to know how to dance and make merry; accompanying 
the other precepts that have been taught the Courtier with dis- 
creet modesty and with the giving of a good impression of her- 
self. And thus, in her talk, her laughter, her play, her jesting, 
in short, in everything, she will be very graceful, and will enter- 
tain appropriately, and with witticisms and pleasantries befitting 
her, everyone who shall come before her. And although con- 
tinence, magnanimity, temperance, strength of mind, prudence, 
and the other virtues, seem to have little to do with entertain- 
ment, I would have her adorned with all of them, not so much 
for the sake of entertainment (albeit even there they can be 
of service), as in order that she may be full of virtue, and to 
the end that these virtues may render her worthy of being 
honoured, and that her every act may be governed by them." 

i8o 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

10.— My lord Gaspar then said, laughing: 

" Since you have given women letters and continence and 
magnanimity and temperance, I only marvel that you would 
not also have them govern cities, make laws, and lead armies, 
and let the men stay at home to cook or spin." 

The Magnifico replied, also laughing: 

"Perhaps even this would not be amiss." Then he added: 
" Do you not know that Plato, who certainly was no great friend 
to women, gave them charge over the city, and gave all other 
martial duties to the men ?™ Do you not believe that there are 
many to be found who would know how to govern cities and 
armies as well as men do? But I have not laid these duties on 
them, because I am fashioning a Court Lady and not a Queen. 

" I well know you would like to repeat tacitly that false impu- 
tation which my lord Ottaviano cast on women yesterday: 
namely, that they are very imperfect creatures, incapable of 
doing any good act, and of very little worth and no dignity by 
comparison with men: but in truth both he and you would be 
greatly in the wrong if you were to think this." 

II.— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" I do not wish to repeat things already said; but you would 
fain lead me to say something to offend these ladies' feelings in 
order to make them my enemies, just as you wish to win their 
favour by flattering them falsely. But they are so much above 
other women in discretion that they love truth (even if it be little 
in their favour) more than false praises; nor do they take it 
amiss if anyone says that men are of greater dignity, and will 
admit that you have recounted great miracles and ascribed to 
the Court Lady certain absurd impossibilities, and so many vir- 
tues that Socrates and Cato and all the philosophers in the world 
are as nothing by comparison. To tell the plain truth, I marvel 
that you were not ashamed to go so far beyond bounds; for it 
ought to have been quite enough for you to make this Court 
Lady beautiful, discreet, chaste, gracious, and able (without 
incurring infamy) to entertain with dancing, music, games, 
laughter, witticisms, and the other things which we see used at 
court every day. But to insist on giving her knowledge of all 
the things in the world, and to attribute to her those virtues that 
i8x 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

are so rarely seen in men even in past centuries, is something 
that cannot be endured or hardly listened to. 

" Now, I am far from willing to affirm that women are imper- 
fect creatures, and consequently of less dignity than men, and 
not capable of those virtues that men are, — because these ladies' 
worth would suffice to prove me wrong:"" but I do say that very 
learned men have left it in writing that since nature always aims 
and designs to make things most perfect, she would continually 
bring forth men if she could; and when a woman is born, it is a 
defect or mistake of nature, and contrary to that which she 
would wish to do: as is seen also in the case of one who is born 
blind or halt or with some other defect; and in trees, many 
fruits that never ripen. Thus woman may be said to be a crea- 
ture produced by chance and accident; and that this is so, mark 
a man's acts and a woman's, and judge therefrom the perfection 
of both. Yet, as these imperfections of women are the fault of na- 
ture who has made them so, we ought not on that account to hate 
them or fail to show them that respect which is their due. But 
to esteem them above what they are, seems to me plain errour." 

12,— The Magnifico Giuliano waited for my lord Gaspar to con- 
tinue further, but seeing that he kept silent, said : 

" As to women's imperfection, methinks you have adduced a 
very weak argument; to which, although perhaps it be not 
timely to enter upon these subtleties now, I reply (according to 
the opinion of one who knows and according to truth) that the 
substance of anything you please cannot receive into itself more 
or less. For just as no one stone can be more perfectly stone 
than another as regards the essence of a stone, nor one piece of 
w^ood more perfectly wood than another, — so one man cannot 
be more perfectly man than another; and consequently the male 
will not be more perfect than the female as regards its essential 
substance, because both are included in the species man, and 
that wherein the one differs from the other is an accidental mat- 
ter and not essential. In case you then tell me that man is more 
perfect than woman, if not in essence, at least in non-essentials, 
I reply that these non-essentials must pertain either to the body 
or to the mind; if to the body (as in that man is more robust, 
more agile, lighter, or more capable of toil), I say that this is 

182 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

proof of very slight perfection, because even among men, they 
who have these qualities more than others have, are not more 
esteemed therefor; and even in wars, where the greater part of 
the work is laborious and a matter of strength, the strongest are 
yet not the most prized; if to the mind, I say that all the things 
that men can understand, the same can women understand too; 
and where the intellect of the one penetrates, there also can that 
of the other penetrate." 

I3-— Having here made a little pause, the Magnifico Giuliano 
added, laughing: 

" Do you not know that in philosophy this proposition is main- 
tained, that those who are tender in flesh are apt in mind? So 
there is no doubt that women, being tenderer in flesh, are apter 
in mind, and of capacity better fitted for speculation than men 
are." Then he continued: 

" But leaving this aside, since you have told me to argue con- 
cerning the perfection of both from their acts, I say that if you 
will consider the workings of nature, you will find that she 
makes women what they are, not by chance, but adapted to the 
necessary end: for although she makes therni not strong in body 
and of placid spirit, with many other qualities opposed to those 
of men, yet the characters of both tend to one single end condu- 
cive to the same use. For just as by reason of that feebleness 
of theirs women are less courageous, so for the same reason they 
are also more cautious: thus the mother nourishes her children, 
the father instructs them and with his strength earns abroad 
that which she with anxious care preserves at home, which is 
not the lesser merit. 

"Again, if you examine the ancient histories (albeit men have 
ever been very chary of writing women's praises) and the mod- 
ern ones, you will find that worth has continually existed among 
women as well as among men; and that there have even been 
those who waged wars and won glorious victories therein, gov- 
erned kingdoms with the highest prudence and justice, and did 
everything that men have done. As for the sciences, do you 
not remember having read of many women who were learned 
in philosophy? Others who were very excellent in poetry? 
Others who conducted suits, and accused and defended most 

183 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

eloquently before judges? Of handicrafts it would be too long 
to tell, nor is there need to bring proof regarding that. 

" Therefore, if in essential substance man is not more perfect 
than woman, nor in non-essentials either (and of this, quite 
apart from argument, the effects are seen), I do not know in 
what consists this perfection of his. 

14.—" And since you said that nature's aim is always to bring 
forth the most perfect things, and that she therefore would 
always bring forth man if she could, and that the bringing forth 
of woman is rather an errour or defect in nature than of pur- 
pose, — I reply that this is totally denied; nor do I see how you 
can say that nature does not aim to bring forth women, without 
whom the human species cannot be preserved, whereof this 
same nature is more desirous than of everything else. For by 
means of this union of male and female she brings forth chil- 
dren, who repay the benefits received in childhood by maintain- 
ing their parents when old ; then in turn they beget other chil- 
dren of their own, from whom they look to receive in old age 
that which they in their youth bestowed upon their parents; 
thus nature, moving as it were in a circle, fills out eternity and 
in this way grants immortality to mortals. Woman being 
therefore as necessary in this as man, I do not see how the 
one was made more by chance than the other. 

" It is very true that nature aims always to bring forth the 
most perfect things, and hence means to bring forth man after 
his kind, but not male rather than female. Nay, if she were 
always to bring forth male, she would be working imperfection; 
for just as from body and soul there results a compound more 
noble than its parts, which is man, — so from the union of male 
and female there results a compound which preserves the 
human species, and without which its members would perish. 
And hence male and female are by nature always together, nor 
can the one exist without the other; thus that ought not to be 
called male which has no female, according to the definition of 
each; nor female, that which has no male. And as one sex 
alone shows imperfection, the theologians of old attribute both 
the one and the other to God:"' wherefore Orpheus said that 
Jove was male and female; and we read in Holy Writ that God 

X84 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

formed men male and female in his own likeness; and often the 
poets, speaking of the gods, confuse the sex." 

15.— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" I would not have us enter upon such subtleties, because 
these ladies will not understand us, and although I answer you 
with excellent arguments, they will believe (or at least pretend 
to believe) that I am wrong, and straightway will pronounce 
judgment to their liking. Yet since we are already begun, I 
will say merely this, that (as you know is the opinion of very 
wise men) man resembles form, and woman matter; and there- 
fore, just as form is more perfect than matter, — nay, gives it its 
being, — so man is far more perfect than woman. And I remem- 
ber having once heard that a great philosopher says in some of 
his problems:*" * Why is it that a woman always naturally loves 
the man who first tasted the sweets of love with her ? and on 
the contrary a man holds that woman in hatred who was the 
first to give herself to him ? ' And adding the reason, he affirms 
it to be this: because in this matter the woman receives perfec- 
tion from the man, and the man imperfection from the woman; 
and therefore everyone naturally loves that thing which makes 
him perfect, and hates that which makes him imperfect. And 
besides this, a great argument for the perfection of man and for 
the imperfection of woman is that every woman universally 
desires to be a man, by a certain natural instinct that teaches 
her to desire her perfection." 

16.— The Magnifico Giuliano at once replied: 

" The poor creatures do not desire to be men in order to be 
perfect, but in order to have liberty and to escape that dominion 
over them which man has arrogated to himself by his own 
authority. And the analogy that you cite of matter and form 
does not apply in everything; for woman is not made perfect by 
man, as matter by form: because matter receives its being from 
form and cannot exist without it; nay, the more matter forms 
have, the more they have of imperfection, and are most perfect 
when separated from it. But woman does not receive her being 
from man; nay, just as she is made perfect by him, she also 
makes him perfect. Hence both join in procreation, which 
neither of them can effect without the other. 

185 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Therefore I will assign the cause of woman's lasting love 
for the first man to whom she has given herself, and of man's 
hatred for the first woman, not at all to that which your Philoso- 
pher alleges in his problems, but to woman's firmness and con- 
stancy, and to man's inconstancy; nor without natural reason: 
for being warm, the male naturally derives from that quality 
lightness, movement and inconstancy, while from her frigidity 
woman on the other hand derives quietness, firm gravity, and 
more fixed impressions." 

17 — Then my lady Emilia turned to my lord Magnifico and said: 

" For the love of Heaven, leave these matters and forms of 
yours awhile, and male and female, and speak in such fashion 
that you may be understood; for we heard and understood very 
well the evil that my lord Ottaviano and my lord Gaspar said of 
us, but now we do not at all understand in what manner you are 
defending us: so it seems to me that you are straying from the 
subject and leaving in everyone's mind that bad impression 
which these enemies of ours have given of us," 

" Do not give us that name, my Lady," replied my lord Gaspar, 
" for it better befits my lord Magnifico, who by bestowing false 
praises upon women shows that there are none true of them." 

The Magnifico Giuliano continued: 

" Do not doubt, my Lady, that answer will be made to every- 
thing. But I do not wish to utter such inordinate abuse of men 
as they have uttered of women; and if by chance there w^ere 
anyone to write down our discussions, I should not like, in a 
place where these matters and forms are understood, to have 
the arguments and reasons that my lord Gaspar adduces against 
you, appear to have been without reply." 

" I do not see, my lord Magnifico," my lord Gaspar then said, 
" how in this matter you will be able to deny that man is by his 
natural qualities more perfect than woman, who is frigid by 
temperament, and man warm. And warmth is far nobler and 
more perfect than cold, because it is active and productive; and, 
as you know, the heavens send down only warmth upon us here, 
and not cold, which does not enter into the works of nature. 
And hence I believe that the frigidity of women's temperament 
is the cause of their abasement and timidity." 

186 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

18 — " So you too," replied the Magnifico GiuHano, " wish to 
enter into subtleties; but you shall see that you will always have 
the worst of it: and that this is true, listen. 

"I grant you that warmth is in itself more perfect than cold; 
but this is not the case with things mixed and composite; for if 
it were so, that body which is warmer would be more perfect, 
which is false, because temperate bodies are most perfect. 
Moreover, I tell you that woman is of frigid temperament by 
comparison with man, who by excess of warmth is far from tem- 
perate; but as for her, she is temperate (or at least more nearly 
temperate than man is) because she has in her a moisture pro- 
portioned to her natural warmth, which in man usually evapo- 
rates by reason of excessive dryness and is consumed. Further- 
more, her coldness is of the kind that resists and moderates her 
natural warmth and makes it more nearly temperate; while in 
man the surplus warmth soon raises his natural heat to the 
highest pitch, which wastes away for lack of sustenance. And 
thus, as men lose more in procreation than women do, it often 
happens that they are less long lived than women; wherefore 
this perfection also may be ascribed to women, that, living longer 
than men, they perform better than men that which is the intent 
of nature. 

" Of the warmth that the heavens shed upon us I do not speak 
now, because it is of a different sort from that which we are dis- 
cussing; for being preservative of all things under the moon's 
orb, warm as well as cold, it cannot be hostile to cold. But tim- 
idity in women, although it shows some imperfection, yet springs 
from a praiseworthy source, that is, from the subtlety and readi- 
ness of their wits, which picture images to their minds quickly 
and thus are easily disturbed by things external. You will very 
often see men who fear neither death nor anything else, and yet 
cannot be called courageous, because they do not know the dan- 
ger and go like fools where they see the road open, and think no 
further; and this proceeds from a certain grossness of dull wits: 
wherefore we cannot say that a fool is brave. But true loftiness 
of mind comes from a due deliberation and determined resolve 
to act thus and so, and from esteeming honour and duty above 
all the dangers in the world; and from being of such stout heart 
187 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

and courage (although death be manifest), that the senses are 
not clogged or frightened, but perform their office in speech and 
thought as if they were most quiet. W^e have seen and heard 
that great men are of this sort; likewise many women, who both 
in ancient and in modern times have displayed greatness of 
spirit and have wrought upon the world effects worthy of infinite 
praise, not less than men have done." 

19 — Then Frisio said: 

" These effects began when the first woman by her transgres- 
sion led others to transgress against God, and left the human 
race an heritage of death, sufferings, sorrows, and all the miseries 
and calamities that are felt in the world to-day." 

The Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" Since you too are pleased to enter upon sacred things, do 
you not know that this transgression was repaired by a Woman, 
who brought us much greater gain than the other had done us 
injury, so that the guilt is called most fortunate which was 
atoned by such merits? But I do not now mean to tell you how 
inferior in dignity all human creatures are to our Lady the 
Virgin (in order not to mingle things divine w^ith these light dis- 
cussions of ours) ; nor to recount how many women have, with 
infinite constancy, suffered themselves to be cruelly slain by 
tyrants for Christ's name, nor those who by learned disputation 
have confuted so many idolaters. And if you told me that this 
was a miracle and grace of the Holy Spirit, I say that no virtue 
merits more praise than that which is approved by the testi- 
mony of God. Many other women also, of whom there is less 
talk, you yourself can see, — especially by reading Saint Jerome, 
who celebrates certain ones of his time with such admiring 
praises as might well suffice for the saintliest man on earth."' 

20.—" Then consider how many others there have been, of 
whom no mention is made at all, because the poor creatures are 
kept shut up, without the lofty pride to seek the name of saint 
from the rabble, as many accursed hypocrites do to-day, who, — 
forgetful or rather regardless of Christ's teaching, which requires 
that when a man fasts he shall anoint his face in order that he 
may not seem to fast, and commands that prayers, alms, and 
other good works shall be done, not in the market-place nor in 

188 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

synagogues, but in secret, so that the left hand shall not know of 
the right, — afBrm that there is no greater good thing in the 
world than to give a good example: and so, with averted head 
and downcast eyes, noising it abroad that they will not speak to 
women or eat anything but raw herbs, — dirty, with cassocks 
torn, they beguile the simple. Yet they abstain not from forging 
wills, setting mortal enmities between man and wife, and some- 
times poison, using sorceries, incantations and every sort of 
villainy. And then they cite a certain authority out of their own 
head, which says, si non caste, tamen caute;^ and with this they 
think to cure every great evil, and with good arguments to per- 
suade anyone who is not right wary that all sin, however grave 
it be, is easily pardoned of God, provided it remain secret and do 
not give rise to bad example. Thus, under a veil of sanctity and 
in secret they often turn all their thoughts to corrupt the pure 
mind of some woman; often to sow hatred between brothers; 
to govern states; to raise up one and cast another down; to get 
men beheaded, imprisoned and proscribed; to be ministers of 
the villainies and as it were receivers of the thefts that many 
princes commit, 

" Others shamelessly delight to appear dainty and fresh, with 
well-shaven crown and garments fine, and in walking lift the 
cassock to display their neat hose and their comeliness of person 
in making salutations. Others use certain glances and gestures 
even in saying mass, whereby they imagine they are graceful 
and attract attention. Villainous and wicked men, utter stran- 
gers not only to religion but to all good behaviour; and when 
they are reproved for their loose living, they make a jest of it 
and laugh at him who speaks to them of it, and almost make a 
merit of their vices." 

Then my lady Emilia said: 

'• You take such pleasure in speaking ill of friars, that you have 
entered upon this subject without rhyme or reason. But you 
are very wrong to murmur against ecclesiastics, and you burden 
your conscience quite needlessly; since, but for those who pray 
to God for us, we should have much greater scourges than we 
have." 

Then the Magnifico Giuliano laughed, and said: 
i8g 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" How did you guess so well, my Lady, that I was speaking of 
friars, when I did not name them? But in truth what I do is not 
called murmuring, for I speak very openly and plainly; nor am 
I speaking of the good, but of the bad and guilty, of whom more- 
over I do not tell the thousandth part of what I know." 

"Do not speak of friars now," replied my lady Emilia; "be- 
cause for my part I esteem it grievous sin to listen to you, and so 
I shall go away in order not to listen to you." 

21.—" I am content," said the Magnifico Giuliano, " to speak no 
more of this; but returning to the praises of women, I say that 
my lord Gaspar shall not find me an admirable man, but I will 
find you a wife or daughter or sister of equal and sometimes 
greater merit. Moreover, many women have been the cause of 
countless benefits to their men-folk, and sometimes have cor- 
rected many a one of his errours. Wherefore, women being (as 
we have shown) naturally capable of the same virtues as men, 
and the effects thereof being often seen, I do not perceive why, — 
in giving them what it is possible for them to have, what they 
more than once have had and still have, — I should be regarded 
as relating miracles, whereof my lord Gaspar has accused me; 
seeing that there have always been on earth, and now still are, 
women as like the Court Lady I have fashioned, as men like the 
man these gentlemen have fashioned." 

Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" Those arguments that have experience against them do not 
seem to me good; and certainly if I were to ask you who these 
great women were that have been as worthy of praise as the 
great men whose wives or sisters or daughters they were, or 
that have been the cause of any benefit, and who those were 
that have corrected the errours of their mien-folk, — I think vou 
would be embarrassed." 

22._" Verily," replied the Magnifico Giuliano, " no other thing 
could make me embarrassed save their multitude; and had I 
time enough, I should tell you here the story of Octavia,"*' wife 
of Mark Antony and sister of Augustus; that of Porcia,"" Cato's 
daughter and wife of Brutus; that of Caia Caecilia,"' wife of Tar- 
quinius Priscus; that of Cornelia,"" Scipio's daughter; and of 
countless others who are very celebrated: and not only of our 

igo 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

own, but of barbarian nations; as that of Alexandra,"' wife of 
Alexander king of the Jews, who, — after her husband's death, 
when she saw the people kindled with fury and already up in 
arms to slay the two children that he had left her, in revenge for 
the cruel and grievous bondage in which the father had always 
kept them, — so acted that she soon appeased their just wrath, 
and by her prudence straightway won over for her children 
those minds which the father, by countless injuries during many 
years, had made very hostile to his offspring." 

"At least tell us," replied my lady Emilia, "how she did it." 
" Seeing her children in such peril," said the Magnifico, " she 
at once caused Alexander's body to be cast into the middle of 
the market-place. Then, having called the citizens to her, she 
said that she knew their minds to be kindled with very just 
wrath against her husband, because the cruel injuries that 
he had iniquitously done them deserved it; and that, as she had 
always wished, while he was alive, that she could make him 
abstain from such a wicked life, so now she was ready to give 
proof of it, and as far as possible to help them punish him after 
death; and therefore let them take his body, and give it as food 
for dogs, and outrage it in the most cruel ways they could 
devise: but she prayed them to have mercy upon her innocent 
children, who could not have either guilt or even knowledge of 
the father's evil deeds. Of such efficacy were these words, 
that the fierce wrath before conceived in the minds of all that 
people was quickly softened and turned to a feeling of such pity, 
that they not only with one accord chose the children for their 
rulers, but also gave most honourable burial to the body of the 
dead." 

Here the Magnifico made a little pause; then he added: 
" Do you not know that the wife and daughters of Mithridates 
showed much less fear of death than Mithridates?™ And Has- 
drubal's wife than Hasdrubal?'^^" Do you not know that Har- 
monia, daughter of Hiero the Syracusan, chose to perish in the 
burning of her native city?'""' 
Then Frisio said: 

" Where obstinacy is concerned, it is certain that some women 
are occasionally to be found who never change their purpose; 
191 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

like the one who being no longer able to say ' Scissors ' to her 
husband, made the sign of them to him with her hands.'"" 

23— The Magnifico Giuliano laughed, and said: 

" Obstinacy that tends to a worthy end ought to be called 
steadfastness; as was the case of the famous Epicharis, a Roman 
freedwoman, who, being privy to a great conspiracy against Nero, 
was of such steadfastness that, although racked by all the direst 
tortures that can be imagined, she never betrayed one of her 
accomplices; while in the same peril many noble knights and 
senators basely accused brothers, friends and the dearest and 
nearest they had in the world."" 

" 'What will you say of that other woman who was called 
Leaena? In whose honour the Athenians dedicated a tongue- 
less lioness {lecend) in bronze before the gate of the citadel, to 
show in her the steadfast virtue of silence; because bemg like- 
w^ise privy to a conspiracy against the tyrants, she was not dis- 
miayed by the death of two great men (her friends), and although 
rent by countless most cruel tortures, she never betrayed one of 
the conspirators.'"" 

Then madonna Margarita Gonzaga said: 

" Methinks you narrate too briefly these virtuous deeds done 
by women; for these enemies of ours, although having heard 
and read them, yet pretend not to know them and fain would 
have the memory of them lost: but if you will let us women hear 
them, we at least shall deem ourselves honoured by them." 

24-— Then the Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" So be it. I wish to tell you now of one who did what I think 
my lord Gaspar himself will admit very few men do;" and he 
began: "In Massilia'^* there was once a custom that is believed 
to have been brought from Greece, which was that they pub- 
licly*" kept a poison compounded of hemlock, and allowed any- 
one to take it who proved to the Senate that he ought to lay 
down his life because of any trouble that he found therein, or for 
other just cause, to the end that whoever had suffered a too hos- 
tile fortune or had enjoyed a too prosperous fortune, should not 
drag on the one or change the other. Now Sextus Pompey, 
finding himself—"^ 

Here Frisio, not waiting for the Magnifico Giuliano to go on, said ; 

192 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Methinks this is the beginning of a long story." 

Then the Magnifico Giuliano turned to madonna Margarita 
laughing, and said: 

" You see that Frisio will not let me speak. I wished to tell 
you now about a woman who, having shown to the Senate that 
she had good reason to die, cheerfully and fearlessly took the 
poison in Sextus Pompey's presence, with such steadfastness of 
spirit and with such affectionate and thoughtful remembrances 
to her family, that Pompey and all the others who saw such wis- 
dom and confidence on a woman's part in the dread hour of 
death, were lost in wonderment and tears." 

25-— Then my lord Caspar said, laughing: 

" I too remember having read a speech in which an unhappy 
husband asks leave of the Senate to die, and proves that he has 
just cause for it in that he cannot endure the continual annoy- 
ance of his wife's chatter, and prefers to drink the poison, which 
you say was publicly kept for such purposes, than his wife's 
words." 

The Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" How many poor women would have just cause for asking 
leave to die because they cannot endure, I will not say the evil 
words, but the very evil deeds of their husbands! I know sev- 
eral such, who suffer in this world the pains that are said to be 
in hell." 

" Do you not believe," replied my lord Gaspar, " that there are 
also many husbands who have such torment of their wives that 
they hourly wish for death?" 

" And what pain," said the Magnifico, " can wives give their 
husbands that is as incurable as are those that husbands give 
their wives ? — who if not for love, at least for fear, are submis- 
sive to their husbands." 

" Certain it is," said my lord Gaspar, " that the little good they 
sometimes do proceeds from fear, since there are few in the 
world who in their secret hearts do not hate their husbands." 

" Nay, quite the contrary," replied the Magnifico; " and if you 
recall aright what you have read, we see in all the histories that 
wives nearly always love their husbands more than husbands 
love their wives. When did you ever see or read of a husband 

193 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

showing his wife such a token of love as did the famous Camma 
to her husband ? " 

" I do not know," replied my lord Gaspar, " who the woman 
was, nor what token she showed." 

" Nor I," said Frisio. 

"Listen," replied the Magnifico; "and do you, madonna Mar- 
garita, take care to keep it in mind. 

26.—" This Camma was a very beautiful young woman, adorned 
with such modesty and gentle manners that she was admirable 
no less for this than for her beauty; and above other things with 
all her heart she loved her husband, who was called Synattus. 
It happened that another gentleman, who was of much higher 
station than Synattus and almost tyrant of the city where they 
lived, became enamoured of this young woman; and after having 
long tried by every way and means to possess her, and all in 
vain, he persuaded himself that the love she bore her husband 
was the sole cause that hindered his desires, and had this Synat- 
tus slain. 

"So then urging her continually, he was never able to gain 
other advantage than he had done at first; wherefore, his love 
increasing daily, he resolved to take her for his wife, although 
she was far beneath him in station. So, her parents being asked 
by Sinoris (for thus the lover was called), they began to per- 
suade her to accept him, showing her that her consent would be 
very advantageous, and her refusal dangerous to her and to 
them all. After resisting them awhile, she at last replied that 
she was willing. 

" Her parents had the news brought to Sinoris, who was 
happy beyond measure and arranged that the marriage should 
be celebrated at once. Both having accordingly come in state 
for the purpose to the temple of Diana, Camma had a certain 
sweet drink brought which she had prepared; and so before 
Diana's image she drank half of it in the presence of Sinoris; 
then with her own hand (for thus it was the custom to do at 
marriages) she gave the rest to her spouse, who drank it all. 

" When Camma saw that her plan had succeeded, she knelt 
all joyful at the foot of Diana's image, and said: 

" ' O Goddess, thou who knowest the secrets of my heart, be 

194 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

thou sure witness for me how hardly I refrained from putting 
myself to death after my dear consort died, and with what weari- 
ness I bore the sorrow of remaining in this bitter life, wherein 
I felt no other good or pleasure beyond the hope of that ven- 
geance which now I find I have attained. Joyful and content, 
then, I go to seek the sweet company of that soul which in life 
and in death I have loved more than myself. And thou, wretch, 
who thoughtest to be my husband, instead of the marriage bed 
give order that thy tomb be made ready for thee, for I offer thee 
as a sacrifice to the shade of Synattus.' 

" Aghast at these words, and already feeling the effect of the 
poison stir pain within him, Sinoris tried many remedies; but 
they were of no avail, and Camma had such great good fortune 
(or whatever else it was), that before dying herself she knew that 
Sinoris was dead. Learning which thing, she very contentedly 
laid herself upon her bed with eyes to heaven, continually calling 
the name of Synattus, and saying: 

" ' O sweetest consort, now that I have given both tears and 
vengeance as last offerings for thy death, nor see that aught else 
is left me to do for thee, I hasten from the world and this life, — 
cruel without thee and once dear to me only for thy sake. Come 
then to meet me, my Lord, and receive this soul as gladly as it 
gladly comes to thee.' 

" And speaking thus, and with arms opened as if she would 
already embrace him, she died. Now say, Frisio, what do you 
think ofher?'"* 

Frisio replied: 

•• I think you fain would make these ladies weep. But even 
supposing this were true, I tell you that such women are no 
longer to be found in the world." 

27 — "Indeed they are to be found," said the Magnifico; "and 
that this is true, listen : 

*' In my time there was a gentleman at Pisa, whose name was 
messer Tommaso; I do not remember of what family, although 
I often heard it mentioned by my father, who was a great friend 
of his. Now this messer Tommaso, crossing one day in a small 
vessel from Pisa to Sicily on business, was surprised by some 
Moorish galleys which had come up so stealthily that those who 

195 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

commanded the vessel did not suspect it; and although the men 
who were in her defended themselves stoutly, yet as they were 
few and the enemy many, the vessel fell into the hands of the 
Moors, together with all who were in her, both wounded and 
whole as it chanced, and among them messer Tommaso, who 
had carried himself bravely and slain with his own hand a 
brother of one of the captains of the galleys. Wherefore en- 
raged, as you may believe, by the loss of a brother, the captain 
claimed him as special prisoner, and beating and maltreating 
him every day, carried him to Barbary, having resolved to keep 
him there in great misery a captive for life and with grievous 
pains. 

" All the others got free after a time, some in one way and 
some in another, and returned home and reported to his wife 
(whose name was madonna Argentina) and to his children, the 
hard life and sore affliction in which messer Tommaso was 
living and was like to go on living without hope unless God 
should aid him miraculously. After she and they were informed 
of this and had tried several other means to deliver him, and 
when he himself was quite resigned to die, it came to pass that 
watchful love so kindled the wit and daring of one of his sons, 
who was called Paolo, that the youth took no heed of any kind 
of danger and resolved either to die or to free his father; and 
this thing was brought about in such sort that the father was 
conveyed away so privily that he was in Leghorn before it was 
discovered in Barbary that he had departed thence. From here 
messer Tommaso wrote in safety to his wife, and informed her 
of his deliverance and where he was and how he hoped to see 
her the next day. Overwhelmed with great and unexpected joy 
at being (through the dutifulness and merit of her son) so soon 
to see her husband, whom she so dearly loved and firmly believed 
she would never see again, — the good and gentle lady raised her 
eyes to heaven when she had read the letter, and calling her 
husband's name fell dead upon the ground; nor in spite of all the 
remedies that were employed upon her did the departed spirit 
return again to her body. Cruel spectacle, and enough to mod- 
erate human wishes and restrain their over-longing for too 
much joy." 

196 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

28.— Then Frisio said, laughing: 

" How do you know that she did not die of grief at hearing that 
her husband was coining home? " 

The Magnifico replied: 

" Because the rest of her life did not comport with this; nay, I 
think that her soul, unable to brook delay in seeing him with the 
eyes of her body, forsook it, and, drawn by eagerness, quickly 
flew whither her thought had flown on reading the letter." 

My lord Caspar said: 

*' It may be that this lady was too loving, for women always 
run to extremes in everything, which is bad; and you see that by 
being too loving she wrought evil to herself, and to her husband 
and children, for whom she turned to bitterness the joy of his 
perilous and longed-for deliverance. So you ought by no means 
to cite her as one of those women who have been the cause of 
such great benefits." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" I cite her as one of those who bear witness that there are 
wives who love their husbands; for of those who have been the 
cause of great benefits to the world, I could tell you of an endless 
number, and discourse to you of some so ancient that they almost 
seem fabulous, and of those who among men have been the 
inventors of such things, that they deserved to be esteemed as 
goddesses, like Pallas and Ceres; and of the Sibyls,*" by whose 
mouth God has so often spoken and revealed to the world events 
that were to come; and of those who have instructed very great 
men, like Aspasia,*" and like Diotima,*"' who furthermore by her 
sacrifices delayed for ten years the time of a pestilence that was 
to come upon Athens. I could tell you of Nicostrate,*" Evander's 
mother, who taught the Latins letters; and of still another 
woman,** who was preceptress to the lyric poet Pindar;** and of 
Corinna** and of Sappho,*' who were excellent in poetry; but I 
do not wish to seek out matters so far afield. I tell you, however 
(leaving the rest apart), that women were perhaps not less the 
cause of Rome's greatness than men." 

" This," said my lord Caspar, " would be fine to hear." 

29— The Magnifico replied: 

" Then listen to it. After the fall of Troy many Trojans fled 
197 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

who escaped that great disaster, some in one direction and some 
in another; of whom one part, who were buffeted by many 
storms, came to Italy at that place where the Tiber flows into 
the sea. Landing here in search of necessaries, they began to 
roam about the country : the women, who had remained in the 
ships, bethought themselves of a good plan that would put an 
end to their perilous and long wandering by sea and give them 
a new fatherland in place of that which they had lost; and after 
consulting together in the absence of the men, they burned the 
ships; and the first to begin the work bore the name Roma. Yet 
fearing the wrath of the men, who were returning, they went 
out to meet these; and embracing and kissing, some their 
husbands, some their kinsmen, with tokens of affection, they 
softened the first impulse of anger; then they quietly explained 
to the men the reason of their wise device. Whereupon the 
Trojans, either from necessity or from having been kindly re- 
ceived by the natives, were well pleased with what the women 
had done, and dwelt there with the Latins in the place where 
afterwards was Rome; and from this arose the ancient custom 
among the Romans that the women kissed their kinsfolk when 
they met.*" Now you see how much these women helped to 
make a beginning of Rome. 

30.—" Nor did the Sabine women contribute less to its increase 
than the Trojan women did to its beginning. For Romulus, 
having excited general enmity among all his neighbours by the 
seizure of their women, was harassed by wars on every side; 
which (he being a man of ability) were soon brought to a suc- 
cessful issue, except that with the Sabines, which was very great 
because Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines, was very powerful and 
wise. Wherefore, a severe conflict having taken place between 
Romans and Sabines, with very heavy loss on both sides, and a 
new and cruel battle making ready, the Sabine women, — clad in 
black, with hair loose and torn, weeping, sorrowful, fearless of 
the weapons that were already drawn to strike, — rushed in 
between the fathers and husbands, imploring them to refrain 
from defiling their hands with the blood of fathers-in-law and 
sons-in-law. And if the men were still displeased with the alli- 
ance, let the weapons be turned against the women, for it were 

198 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

better for them to die than to live widowed or fatherless and 
brotherless, and to remember that their children were begotten 
of those who had slain their fathers, or that they themselves 
were born of those who had slain their husbands. Lamenting 
thus and weeping, many of them carried their little babes in their 
arms,""* some of whom were already beginning to loose the 
tongue and seemed to try to call and to make merry with their 
grandsires; to whom the women showed the little ones, and said, 
weeping: 'Behold your blood, which with such heat and fury 
you are seeking to shed with your own hands.* 

" The women's dutifulness and wisdom wrought such great 
effect at this pass, that not only were lasting friendship and 
union established between the two hostile kings, but what was 
stranger, the Sabines came to live at Rome, and of the two peo- 
ples a single one was made. And thus this union greatly in- 
creased the power of Rome, thanks to those wise and lofty- 
minded women, who were rewarded by Romulus in such fashion 
that in dividing the people into thirty wards he gave thereto the 
names of the Sabine women." 

3I-— Here having paused a little, and seeing that my lord Gas- 
par did not speak, the Magnifico Giuliano said: 

" Do you not think that these women were the cause of good 
to their men-folk and contributed to the greatness of Rome?" 

My lord Caspar replied: 

" No doubt they were worthy of much praise; but had you 
been as willing to tell the sins of women as their good works, 
you would not have omitted to say that in this war of Titus 
Tatius a woman betrayed Rome and showed the enemy the way 
to seize the Capitol, whereby the Romans came near being all 
destroyed."'" 

The Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" You tell me of a single bad woman, while I tell you of count- 
less good ones; and besides those already mentioned, I could 
show you a thousand other instances on my side, of benefits done 
to Rome by women, and could tell you why a temple was dedi- 
cated of old to Venus Armata,"' and another to Venus Calva,"" 
and how the Festival of the Handmaidens was instituted in 
honour of Juno because handmaidens once delivered Rome from 

199 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the wiles of the enemy.'" But leaving all these things aside, did 
not that lofty deed — the discovery of Cataline's conspiracy, 
whereof Cicero so vaunts himself — spring chiefly from a vile 
woman?"* — who for this might be said to have been the cause 
of all the good that Cicero boasts of having wrought the Roman 
commonwealth. And had I time enough, I should further show 
you that women have often corrected many of men's errours; 
but I fear that this discourse of mine is already too long and 
wearisome: so, having performed according to my ability the 
task imposed upon me by these ladies, I think it well to give 
place to someone who will say things worthier to be listened to 
than any I can say." 

32 — Then my lady Emilia said: 

" Do not deprive women of those true praises that are their 
due; and remember that if my lord Caspar, and perhaps my lord 
Ottaviano as well, listen to you with weariness, we and all these 
other gentlemen listen to you with pleasure." 

The Magnifico still wished to stop, but all the ladies began 
begging him to speak: whereupon he said, laughing: 

" In order not to make my lord Caspar more my enemy than 
he is, I will tell briefly of a few women who occur to my mind, 
omitting many that I might mention." Then he continued: 
'• When Philip, son of Demetrius, was laying siege to the city of 
Chios, he issued an edict promising freedom and their masters' 
wives to all slaves who should escape from the city and come to 
him. So great was the women's wrath at this shameful edict 
that they rushed to the walls in arms, and fought so fiercely that 
in a short time they drove Philip off with disgrace and loss: 
which their husbands had not been able to do.'" 

" When these same women came to Leuconia with their hus- 
bands, fathers and brothers (who were going into exile), they 
performed a deed no less glorious than this: the Erythraeans,''" 
who were there with their allies, waged war upon these Chiotes, 
who were unable to resist, and so bound themselves to quit the 
city in tunic and shift only. Hearing of this shameful bargain, 
the women bewailed and upbraided the men for abandoning 
their weapons and going forth almost naked among the enemy; 
and the men answering that they were already bound, the 

200 






*':'^"i/i<!:. 







' -^ ■ ^#'f>^:«J^^^^? 




EMILIA PIA 
Died 1528 

Enlarged from a photograph, specially made by Mansell, of a cast, kindly fur- 
nished by T. Whitcombe Greene, Esq., of a medal in his collection at Chandler's 
Ford, Hampshire, possibly the work of Giancristoforo Romano (i465?-i5n). See 
Armand's Les MidaiUeurs Itatiens, iii, aoa. 



.1 ttltaU ,f- 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

women told them to wear their shields and spears and leave 
their clothes behind, and to tell the enemy that this was their 
attire. And thus, acting upon the advice of their women, they in 
great part atoned for the shame that they could not wholly 
escape. 

" Again, Cyrus having routed an army of Persians in battle, in 
fleeing to their city they met their women outside the gate, who, 
stopping in the way, said: 'Whither do ye flee, base men? 
Would ye perchance hide yourselves in us, from whence ye 
came?' On hearing these and other like words, and being sen- 
sible how inferior they were in courage to their women, the men 
were ashamed, and returning against the enemy, fought with him 
anew and routed him."'" 

33. — Having thus far spoken, the Magnifico stopped, and turning 
to my lady Duchess, said: 

" Now, my Lady, you will give me leave to be silent." 

My lord Caspar replied: 

" You will forsooth have to be silent, for you do not know 
what more to say." 

The Magnifico said, laughing: 

" You provoke me so, that you run risk of having to listen to 
women's praises all night; and to hear of many Spartan women 
who rejoiced in the glorious death of their children ;''" and of 
those who disowned or even slew theirs when seen to behave 
basely. Then how in the ruin of their country the Saguntine 
women took up arms against the forces of Hannibal;'™ and how, 
when Marius overcame the army of the Germans, the women, 
being unable to get leave to live free at Rome in the service of 
the Vestal Virgins, all killed themselves and their little chil- 
dren;'"' and of a thousand others whereof all the ancient histories 
are full." 

Then my lord Caspar said: 

"Ah, my lord Magnifico, but God knows how those things 
happened; for that age is so remote from us that many lies can 
be told and there is none to refute them." 

34-— The Magnifico said: 

"If in every age you will compare women's worth with that of 
men, you will find that they have never been and are not now at 

201 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

all inferior to men in worth; for leaving aside the times that are 
so ancient, if you come to the time when the Goths ruled in Italy, 
you will find that there was a queen among them, Amala- 
sontha,"' who long reigned with admirable wisdom; then Theo- 
dolinda,*^ queen of the Lombards, of singular worth; Theo- 
dora,"*" the Greek empress; and in Italy among many others the 
Countess Matilda was a most illustrious lady, of whose praises I 
will leave Count Ludovico to speak, since she was of his family.'"^ 

" Nay," said the Count, " that rests with you, for you know it 
does not become a man to praise what is his own." 

The Magnifico continued: 

"And how many women in times past do you find belonging to 
this most noble house of Montefeltro!**" How many of the house 
of Gonzaga, of Este, of Pio!"* Then, if we wish to speak of the 
present times, we shall have no need to seek very far for in- 
stances, because we have them at home. But I shall not avail 
myself of those we see before us, lest you pretend to grant me 
out of courtesy that which you can in no wise deny. And to go 
outside of Italy, remember that we in our day have seen Queen 
Anne of France,'*' a very great lady not less in worth than in 
state; and if you will compare her in justice and clemency, liber- 
ality and pureness of life, with Kings Charles*^ and Louis" (to 
both of whom she was consort), you will not find her at all their 
inferior. You see madonna Margarita '^ (daughter of the Em- 
peror Maximilian)™ who has until now governed and still governs 
her state with the utmost wisdom and justice. 

35-—" But laying all others aside, tell me, my lord Gaspar, what 
king or what prince has there been in our days, or even for many 
years past in Christendom, who deserves to be compared with 
Queen Isabella of Spain?"*" 

My lord Gaspar replied: 

" King Ferdinand, her husband."'^ 

The Magnifico continued: 

" That I shall not deny; for since the queen judged him worthy 
to be her husband, and so loved and honoured him, we cannot 
say that he did not deserve to be compared with her: yet I 
believe that the fame he had by her was a dowry not inferior to 
the kingdom of Castile." 

202 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Nay," replied my lord Caspar, " I think that Queen Isabella 
had credit for many of King Ferdinand's deeds." 

Then the Magnifico said: 

" Unless the people of Spain, — lords, commons, men and 
women, poor and rich, — have all agreed to lie in praise of her, 
there has not been in our time on earth a brighter example of 
true goodness, of lofty spirit, of wisdom, of piety, of purity, of 
courtesy, of liberality, — in short, of every virtue, — than Queen 
Isabella; and although the fame of that illustrious lady is very 
great in every place and among every nation, those who lived in 
her company and were witness to her actions, do all affirm that 
this fame sprang from her virtue and merits. And whoever will 
consider her deeds will easily perceive such to be the truth. For 
leaving aside countless things that give proof of this and could 
be told if it were our theme, everyone knows that when she came 
to reign she found the greater part of Castile usurped by the 
grandees; yet she recovered the whole so righteously and in 
such fashion that the very men who were deprived of it, re- 
mained very devoted to her and content to give up that which 
they possessed. 

"A very noted thing also is with what courage and wisdom 
she always defended her realms against very powerful enemies; 
and likewise to her alone can be given the honour of the glorious 
conquest of the kingdom of Granada; for in this long and diffi- 
cult war against obstinate enemies, — who were fighting for prop- 
erty, for life, for religion, and (to their thinking) for God, — she 
always showed, both in her counsel and in her very person, such 
virtue that perhaps few princes in our time have had the hardi- 
hood, I will not say to imitate, but even to envy her. 

" Besides this, all who knew her affirm that she had such a 
divine manner of ruling that her mere wish seemed enough to 
make every man do quietly that which he ought to do ; so that men 
hardly dared in their own houses and secretly to do anything they 
thought would displease her: and in great part the cause of this 
was the admirable judgment she had in discerning and choosing 
right agents for the duties she meant to employ them in; and so 
well did she know how to unite the rigour of justice with the 
gentleness of mercy and liberality, that in her day there was no 
203 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

good man who complained of being ill rewarded, nor any bad 
man of being too severely punished. Thus there sprang up 
among the people an exceeding great reverence for her, com- 
posed of love and fear, which still remains so implanted in the 
minds of all, that they almost seem to think that she looks down 
upon them from heaven and must bestow praise or blame upon 
them from above; and thus those realms are still governed by 
her name and the methods she ordained, so that although her 
life is at an end, her authority lives, — like a wheel which, long 
revolved with force, still turns of itself for a good space, although 
nothing more impels it. 

" Consider also, my lord Caspar, that in our times nearly all 
the men in Spain who are great or famous for anything what- 
ever, were made so by Queen Isabella; and Consalvo Ferdi- 
nando, the Great Captain, was far prouder of this than of all his 
famous victories, and of those eminent and worthy deeds which 
have made him so bright and illustrious in peace and war, that 
if fame is not very thankless, she will always herald his immor- 
tal praises to the world, and give proof that we have in our age 
had few kings or great princes who have not been surpassed by 
him in magnanimity, wisdom, and in every virtue. 

36 " Returning now to Italy, I say that here too there is no 

lack of very admirable ladies; for in Naples we have two re- 
markable queens;'"' and a short time since there died at Naples 
also the other queen of Hungary,'" you know how admirable a 
lady, and worthy to be the peer of the unconquerable and 
glorious king, Matthias Corvinus, her husband.'"" Likewise the 
Duchess Isabella of Aragon, worthy sister to King Ferdinand of 
Naples; who (like gold in the fire) showed her virtue and worth 
amid the storms of fortune.'* 

" If you come to Lombardy, you will find my lady Isabella, 
Marchioness of Mantua;"" to whose very admirable virtues in- 
justice would be done in speaking as soberly as in this place 
anyone must needs do who would speak of her at all. I regret, 
too, that you did not all know her sister the Duchess Beatrice of 
Milan, in order that you might never more have need to marvel 
at woman's capacity."' And Eleanora of Aragon, Duchess of 
Ferrara and mother of both these two ladies whom I have men- 

204 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

tioned, was of such sort that her very admirable virtues bore 
good witness to all the world that she not only was a worthy 
daughter of a king, but deserved to be queen over a much 
greater realm than all her ancestors had possessed.** And to 
tell you of another, how many men do you know in the world 
who have borne the cruel blows of fortune as patiently as Queen 
Isabella of Naples has done?™ — who, after the loss of her king- 
dom, the exile and death of her husband King Federico'"' and of 
two children, and the captivity of her first-born, the Duke of 
Calabria,™ still shows herself to be a queen, and so endures the 
grievous burdens of bitter poverty as to give all men proof that 
although her fortunes are changed, her rank is not, 

" I refrain from mentioning countless other ladies, and also 
women of low degree; like many Pisan women, who in defence 
of their city against the Florentines displayed that generous 
daring, without any fear of death, which might have been dis- 
played by the most unconquerable souls that have ever been on 
earth; wherefore some of them have been celebrated by many 
noble poets/™ 

*' I could tell you of some who were very excellent in letters, 
in music, in painting, in sculpture; but I do not wish to go on 
selecting from among these instances that are perfectly well 
known to you all. It is enough that if you reflect upon the 
women whom you yourselves know, it is not difficult for you to 
perceive that they are for the most part not inferior in worth and 
merits to their fathers, brothers and husbands; and that not a few 
have been the source of good to men and often have corrected 
many a one of his errours; and if there are not now to be found 
on earth those great queens who march to the conquest of dis- 
tant lands, and erect great buildings, pyramids and cities, — like 
that famous Tomyris, Queen of Scythia, Artemisia, Zenobia, 
Semiramis or Cleopatra,™ — neither are there men like Caesar, 
Alexander, Scipio, Lucullus and those other Roman com- 
manders." 

37 — " Say not so," replied Frisio, laughing ; " for now more 
than ever are there women to be found like Cleopatra or Semir- 
amis; and if they have not such great states, power and riches, 
yet they lack not the good will to imitate those queens in giving 
205 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

themselves pleasure, and in satisfying as far as they can all their 
appetites," 

The Magnifico Giuliano said: 

" You always wish to go beyond bounds, Frisio ; but if there 
are some Cleopatras to be found, there is no lack of countless 
Sardanapaluses, which is far worse.""" 

Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" Do not draw these comparisons, or imagine that men are 
more incontinent than women; and even if they were so, it 
would not be worse, for from women's incontinence countless 
evils result that do not from men's. Therefore, as was said yes- 
terday, it is wisely ordained that women are allowed to fail in 
all other things without blame, to the end that they may be able 
to devote all their strength to keeping themselves in this one 
virtue of chastity; without which their children would be uncer- 
tain, and that tie would be dissolved which binds the whole 
world by blood and by the natural love of each man for what 
he has produced. Hence loose living is more forbidden to 
women than to men, who do not carry their children for nine 
months within them." 

38.— Then the Magnifico replied: 

" Verily these are fine arguments which you cite, and I do not 
see why you do not commit them to writing. 

" But tell me why it is not ordained that loose living is as 
disgraceful a thing in men as in women, seeing that if men are by 
nature more virtuous and of greater worth, they could all the 
more easily practise this virtue of continence also; and their 
children would be neither more nor less certain, for although 
women were unchaste, they could of themselves merely and 
without other aid in no wise bear children, provided men were 
continent and did not take part in women's unchastity. But if 
you will say the truth, even you know that we men have of our 
own authority arrogated to ourselves a licence, whereby we 
insist that the same sins are in us very trivial and sometimes 
praiseworthy, and in women cannot be sufficiently punished, 
unless by shameful death or perpetual infamy at least. 

" Wherefore, since this opinion is prevalent, methinks it were 
a fitting thing to punish severely those also who with lies cast 

206 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

infamy on women; and I think that every noble cavalier is 
bound always to defend the truth with arms where there is need, 
and especially when he knows some woman to be falsely ac- 
cused of little chastity." 

39—" And I," replied my lord Caspar, laughing, " not only 
affirm that which you say is the duty of every noble cavalier, but 
I think that it is an act of great courtesy and gentleness to con- 
ceal the fault a woman may have committed through mischance 
or over-love; and thus you may see that I am more on the side 
of women, where reason permits it, than you are. 

"I do not, indeed, deny that men have taken a little liberty; 
and this because they know that according to universal opinion 
loose living does not bring them the infamy that it does to 
women; who by reason of the frailty of their sex are much 
more inclined towards their appetites than men are; and if they 
sometimes refrain from satisfying their desires, they do so from 
shame and not because their will is not quite ready. Therefore 
men have put the fear of infamy upon them as a bridle to keep 
them almost by force to this virtue, without which they were in 
truth little to be prized; for the world has no good from women 
except the bearing of children. 

" But this is not the case with men, who rule cities and armies, 
and do so many other things of importance. Since you will 
have it so, I do not care to deny that women can do these things; 
it is enough that they do not. And when men have seen fit to 
set a pattern of continence, they have excelled women in this 
virtue as well as in the others also, although you do not admit it. 
And as to this I will not rehearse so many histories and fables 
as you have done, but merely refer you to the continence of two 
very great young lords, and to their victory, which is wont to 
make even men of lowest rank insolent. One is that of Alexan- 
der the Great towards the very beautiful women of Darius, — an 
enemy, and a vanquished one at that;"* the other, of Scipio, 
who having at the age of twenty-four years taken a city in 
Spain by force, there was brought before him a very beautiful 
and noble young woman, captured along with many others; and 
hearing that she was the bride of a gentleman of the country, 
Scipio not only abstained from any wanton act towards her, but 
207 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

restored her unspotted to her husband, bestowing a rich gift 
upon her besides."' 

" I could tell you of Xenocrates/"" who was so continent that a 
very beautiful woman having laid herself down unclothed beside 
him, and employing all the caresses and using all the arts that 
she knew, whereof she was an admirable mistress, she had not 
the power to make him show the slightest sign of impudicity, 
although she tried one whole night long; and of Pericles, who 
on merely hearing someone praise a boy's beauty with over- 
warmth, reproved him sharply;™ and of many others who have 
been very continent of their own choice, and not from shame or 
fear of punishment, which move most women who practise this 
virtue: who for all that deserve to be highly praised, and he 
who falsely casts the infamy of unchasteness upon them is 
worthy of the heaviest punishment, as you have said." 

40,— Then messer Cesare, who had been silent a long while, 
said: 

" Think in what fashion my lord Caspar is wont to speak in 
blame of woman, if these are the things that he says in their 
praise. But if my lord Magnifico will let me say a few things in 
his stead by way of reply to such matters as my lord Caspar has, 
to my thinking, said falsely against women, it were well for both 
of us; as he will rest awhile and then be better able to go on to 
declare some other excellence of the Court Lady, and I shall 
hold myself much favoured at having an opportunity to share 
with him this duty of a good cavalier — that is, to defend the 
truth." 

"Nay, I pray you do so," replied my lord Magnifico; "for 
methinks I have already fulfilled my duty to the extent of my 
powers, and this discussion is now outside my subject." 

Messer Cesare continued: 

" I am far from wishing to speak of the good that women do 
in the world besides the bearing of children, for it has been suf- 
ficiently shown how necessary they are not only to our being, 
but to our well-being; but I say, my lord Gaspar, that if they are 
as you say more inclined to their appetites than men, and if for 
all that they abstain therefrom more than men, which you 
admit, — they are as much worthier of praise as their sex is less 

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THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

strong to resist their natural appetites. And if you say they do it 
from shame, methinks that in place of a single virtue you give 
them two; for if shame is stronger in them than appetite and 
they for that reason abstain from evil acts, I think that this 
shame (which in short is nothing else but fear of infamy) is a 
very rare virtue and one possessed by very few men. And if I 
could, without infinite disgrace to men, tell how many of them are 
plunged in shamelessness (which is the vice opposed to this 
virtue), I should pollute these chaste ears that hear me. These 
offenders against God and nature are for the most part men 
already old, who make a calling, some of the priesthood, some 
of philosophy, some of sacred law; and govern public affairs 
with a Catonian severity of countenance that gives promise of 
all the integrity in the world; and always allege the feminine 
sex to be very incontinent; nor do they ever lament anything 
more than their loss of natural vigor, which renders them unable 
to satisfy the abominable desires that still linger in their thoughts 
after being denied by nature to their bodies; and hence they 
often find ways wherein strength is not necessary. 

41.—" But I do not wish to say more; and it is enough for me 
that you grant me that women abstain from unchaste living 
more than men; and certain it is that they are restrained by no 
other bridle than that which they themselves put on. That this 
is true, the greater part of those who are confined with too close 
care, or beaten by their husbands or fathers, are less chaste than 
those who have some liberty. 

" But a great bridle to women generally is their love of true 
virtue and their desire for honour, whereof many whom I have 
known in my time make more account than of their very life; 
and if you will say the truth, every one of us has seen very noble 
youths, discreet, wise, valiant and beautiful, spend many years 
in love, without omitting aught of care, of gifts, of prayers, of 
tears, in short, of anything that can be imagined; and all in vain. 
And but that I might be told that my qualities have never made 
me. worthy of ever being loved, I should call myself as witness, 
who have more than once been nigh to death because of a 
woman's unchangeable and too stern chastity." 

My lord Gaspar replied: 
2og 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Marvel not at that: for women who are always wooed refuse 
to please him who wooes them; and they who are not wooed, 
woo others."*'" 

42.— Messer Cesare said: 

"I have never known these men who are wooed by women; 
but very many who, on finding that they have tried in vain and 
spent time foolishly, resort to this noble revenge, and say they 
have had an abundance of that which they have only imagined, 
and think it a kind of courtiership to speak evil and invent tales 
to the end that slanderous stories of some noble lady may spring 
up among the rabble. But such as these, who make vile boast 
(whether true or false) of conquering a gentle lady, deserve pun- 
ishment or torture most severe; and if they sometimes meet it, 
we cannot measure the praise due to those who perform the 
office. For if they are telling lies, what villainy can be greater 
than to steal from a worthy lady that which she values more 
than life? And for no other reason than that which ought to 
win endless praise for her? Again, if they are telling the truth, 
what punishment could suffice for a man who is so vile as to 
reward with such ingratitude a woman, who, — vanquished by 
false flatteries, by feigned tears, by continual wooing, by laments, 
by arts, tricks and perjuries, — has suffered herself to be led into 
too great love, and then without reserve has fondly given herself 
a prey to such a malign spirit? 

" But to answer you further touching that unheard-of conti- 
nence of Alexander and Scipio which you have cited, I say I am 
unwilling to deny that both performed an act worthy of much 
praise; yet to the end that you may not be able to say that in 
rehearsing ancient matters I tell you fables, I wish to cite a 
woman of low degree in our own times, who showed far more 
continence than these two great men. 

43 — " I say, then, that I once knew a beautiful and gentle girl, 
whose name I do not tell you lest you give food for slander to 
many fools, who conceive a bad opinion of a w^oman as soon as 
they hear of her being in love. W^ell, this girl having been long 
loved by a noble and well-conditioned youth, began to love him 
with all her mind and heart; and of this not only I (to whom 
she voluntarily confided everything as if I had been, I will not 

210 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

say her brother, but her dearest sister), but all those who saw 
her in the presence of the beloved youth, were very certain of 
her passion. Loving thus as fervently as a very loving soul can 
love, she maintained such continence for two years that she 
never gave this youth any token of loving him, except such as 
she could not hide; neither would she ever speak to him or 
receive letters from him or gifts, although a day never passed 
but she was besought to do both. And I well know how she 
longed for it, because if she was sometimes able to possess any- 
thing secretly that had been the youth's, she held it so dear that 
it seemed to be the source of her life and all her weal; and 
never in all that time would she grant him other pleasure than 
to see him and let herself be seen, and to dance with him as with 
the others when she took part in public festivals. 

" And since they were well suited to each other in condition, 
the girl and the youth desired that their great love might end 
happily, and that they might be man and wife together. The 
same was desired by all the other men and women of their city, 
except her cruel father, who out of perverse and strange caprice 
wished to marry her to another and richer man; and to this the 
unhappy girl opposed naught but very bitter tears. And the 
ill-starred marriage having been concluded, with much pity from 
the people and to the despair of the poor lovers, even this blow 
of fortune did not avail to destroy the love so deeply rooted in 
their hearts; which still endured for the space of three years, 
although she very prudently concealed it and sought in every 
way to stifle those desires that now were hopeless. And all this 
time she kept her stern resolve of continence; and as she could 
not honourably possess him whom alone in the world she 
adored, she chose not to wish for him in any wise, and to follow 
her custom of accepting neither messages nor gifts nor even 
glances from him; and in this fixed resolve, the poor girl, over- 
come by sharpest anguish and grown very wasted from long 
passion, died at the end of three years, preferring to renounce 
the joys and pleasures so eagerly desired, and at last her very 
life, rather than her honour. Nor was she without ways and 
means of satisfying herself quite secretly and without risk of 
disgrace or any other harm; and yet she abstained from that 

211 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

which she herself so greatly desired and towards which she was 
so urged continually by the person whom alone in the world she 
desired to please: nor was she moved therein by fear or any 
other motive than mere love of true virtue. 

" What will you say of another, who for six months spent 
nearly every night with a dearly cherished lover; yet, in a gar- 
den full of sweetest fruits, invited by her own most ardent long- 
ing and by the prayers and tears of one dearer to her than life 
itself, she refrained from tasting them; and although she was 
caught and held in the fast bonds of those beloved arms, she 
never yielded herself vanquished, but preserved the flower of 
her chastity immaculate. 

44-—" Do you think, my lord Gaspar, that these acts of conti- 
nence are equal to Alexander's? — who (being most ardently 
enamoured, not of Darius's women, but of that fame and great- 
ness which incited him by thirst for glory to endure toils and 
dangers to make himself immortal) spurned not only other 
things, but his own life, in order to win renown above all other 
men. And do we marvel that with such thoughts at heart he 
abstained from something he did not much desire? For since 
he had never seen the women before, he could not possibly love 
them in a moment, but perhaps even loathed them because of his 
enemy Darius; and in that case every wanton act of his towards 
them would have been outrage and not love. Hence it is no 
great thing that Alexander, who conquered the world no less by 
magnanimity than by arms, abstained from doing outrage to 
women. 

" Scipio's continence also is much to be praised. Yet if you 
consider rightly, it is not to be compared with these two women's; 
for he too likewise abstained from something not desired; — being 
in a hostile country, newly in command, at the beginning of a 
very important enterprise; having left great expectations of him- 
self at home, and bound to render an account to very strict 
judges, who often punished very small mistakes as well as great, 
and among whom he knew he had enemies; conscious also that 
if he acted otherwise (the lady being very noble and married to 
a very noble lord), he might arouse so many enemies and in such 
fashion that they might long hinder and perhaps quite snatch 

212 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

away his success. Hence, for reasons thus many and important, 
he abstained from a light and harmful wish, displaying con- 
tinence and generous uprightness; which, as it is written, gave 
him the entire good will of those nations, and was worth another 
army to him, wherewith by gentleness to conquer hearts that 
perhaps would have been unconquerable by force of arms.'" 

• ••••••• 

" Forgive me, my lord Gaspar, if I say the truth, for in short 
these are the miraculous continences that men write about them- 
selves while accusing women of incontinence, in whom we every 
day see countless tokens of continence; for in truth, if you con- 
sider well, there is no fortress so impregnable and well defended 
that, if it were assailed with a thousandth part of the wiles and 
tricks that are employed to overcome the steadfast heart of 
woman, it would not surrender at the first assault. 

" How many creatures of great lords, — enriched by them and 
placed in very high esteem, entrusted with their castles and 
fortresses, whereon depend their whole state, life and weal, — 
have basely and sordidly surrendered these to such as had no 
right thereto, without shame or fear of being called traitors? 
And would to God there were so great a dearth of such men in 
our days, that we might have no more trouble to find a man who 
had done his duty in this regard, than to name those who have 
failed in theirs. Do we not see many others who daily go about 
slaying men in the forest and scouring the sea solely to steal 
money? 

" How many prelates sell the property of God's church! How 
many lawyers forge wills! How many perjurers bear false 
witness only to get money! How many physicians poison the 
sick to the same end! Again, how many do the vilest things 
from fear of death! And yet a tender and delicate girl often 
resists all these sharp and hard encounters; for many have been 
found who preferred death rather than lose their chastity." 

47-— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" These, messer Cesare, I believe are not on earth to-day," 

Messer Cesare replied: 

" I will not cite the ancients now; but I tell you this, that many 
would be and are to be found, who in such case do not fear to 
213 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

die. And now I remember that when Capua was sacked by the 
French (which was not so long ago that you cannot recall it 
very well),*" a beautiful young Capuan lady being led out of her 
house, where she had been captured by a company of Gascons, 
when she reached the river that flows through Capua,*" she pre- 
tended that she wished to tie her shoe, so that he who was lead- 
ing her let her go a little, and she suddenly threw herself into 
the river. 

" What will you say of a peasant girl, who not many months 
ago, at Gazuolo in the Mantuan territory/" went with her sister 
to reap corn in the fields, and being overcome with thirst, entered 
a house for a drink of water; and the master of the house, who 
was a young man, seeing that she was very beautiful and alone, 
took her in his arms, and first with soft words, and then with 
threats, sought to persuade her to his wishes; and she resisting 
more and more stubbornly, he at last overcame her with many 
blows and with force. So, dishevelled and weeping, she went 
back to her sister in the field, nor would she for all her sister's 
urgent questioning tell what outrage she had received in that 
house; but on the way home, feigning to grow calmer little by 
little and to speak quite without agitation, she gave her sister 
some directions. Then when she came to the Oglio, which is 
the river that flows by Gazuolo,*" she left her sister a little be- 
hind not knowing or imagining what she meant to do, and sud- 
denly threw herself in. Wailing and weeping her sister ran 
after her as fast as possible along the bank of the river, which 
was bearing her down-stream very rapidly: and each time the 
poor creature rose to the surface, her sister threw her a cord 
which they had to bind the corn, and although the cord reached 
her hands several times (for she was still near the bank), the 
steadfast and determined girl always refused it and put it from 
her; and thus rejecting every aid that might save her life, she 
soon died: nor was she moved by nobility of birth, nor by fear 
of most cruel death or of infamy, but solely by grief for her 
lost virginity.*" 

" Now from this you can understand how many other women, 
who are not known, perform acts most worthy of praise; for 
although this one gave such proof of her virtue only three days 

214 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

since, as one may say, there is no talk of her and even her name 
is unknown. But if the death of our lady Duchess's uncle, the 
Bishop of Mantua,'" had not occurred at that time, the bank of 
the Oglio, at the place where she threw herself in, would have 
been graced by a very beautiful monument to the memory of 
that glorious soul, which deserved so much the brighter fame 
after death, because in life it dwelt in a less noble body." 
48 — Here messer Cesare made a little pause; then he continued: 
"At Rome, in my day, there happened another like case; and it 
was that a beautiful and noble Roman girl, being long pursued 
by one who seemed to love her much, was never willing to 
favour him at all, even with a single look. So, by means of 
money he corrupted one of her women; who, desirous of satisfy- 
ing him in order to get more money from him, persuaded her 
mistress to visit the church of San Sebastiano on a certain day 
of small solemnity;"' and having made everything known to the 
lover and shown him what he must do, she led the girl to one of 
those dark caves which nearly all who go to San Sebastiano are 
wont to visit; and in this the young man was already hidden 
secretly. 

" Finding himself alone with her whom he loved so much, he 
began in all ways to beg her as gently as he could to have pity 
on him and change her former hardness to love. But after he 
saw all his prayers to be in vain, he had resort to threats, which 
failing too, he began to beat her cruelly; at last, although firmly 
resolved to attain his end, by force if necessary, and therein 
employing the help of the infamous woman who had led her 
thither, he was never able to bring her to consent. Nay, with 
both word and deed (although she had little strength), the poor 
girl defended herself to the last: so that partly from anger at 
seeing that he could not obtain what he desired, partly from fear 
lest her relatives might make him suffer for it when they learned 
the thing, this wretch, with the help of the servant (who feared 
the like), strangled the unhappy girl and left her there; and 
having fled, he took means not to be discovered. Blinded by her 
very crime, the servant could not flee, and being taken into 
custody on suspicion, confessed everything and so was punished 
as she deserved. 
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THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" The body of the steadfast and noble girl was taken from that 
cave with the greatest honour and brought to Rome for burial, 
with a laurel crown upon her head, and accompanied by a 
countless host of men and women; among whom there was no 
one who went home without tears in his eyes; and thus was this 
rare soul universally mourned as well as praised by all the 
people. 

49 — " But to speak to you of those whom you yourselves know, 
do you not remember having heard that when my lady Felice 
della Rovere was journeying to Savona,*" and feared that some 
sails that were sighted were vessels of Pope Alexander in pur- 
suit of her, she made ready with fixed resolve to cast herself 
into the sea, in case they should come up and there was no 
remedy by flight: and it is in no wise to be believed that she 
acted in this from lightness, for you know as well as any other 
with what intelligence and wisdom this lady's singular beauty 
was accompanied. 

" Nor can I refrain from saying a word of our lady Duchess, 
who having for fifteen years lived like a widow in company with 
her husband, not only was steadfast in never revealing this to 
anyone in the w^orld, but when urged by her own people to lay 
aside her widowhood, she chose rather to endure exile, poverty 
and every other sort of hardship, than to accept that which 
seemed to all others great favour and blessing of fortune; """ and 
as messer Cesare was going on to speak of this, my lady Duchess 
said: 

" Speak of something else, and go no further with this subject, 
for you have many other things to say." 

Messer Cesare continued: 

" Yet I know you will not deny this, my lord Gaspar, nor you, 
Frisio." 

" Indeed no," replied Frisio; "but one does not make a host." 

50 — Then messer Cesare said: 

" It is true that such great results as these are met in few 
women: still, those also who withstand the assaults of love are 
all admirable; and those who are sometimes overcome deserve 
much pity: for certainly the urgence of lovers, the arts they use, 
the snares they spread, are so many and so continual that it is 

216 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

but too great a wonder that a tender girl can escape. What 
day, what hour, ever passes that the persecuted girl is not 
besought by the lover with money, gifts and all things that must 
please her? When can she ever go to her window, but she shall 
always see her persistent lover pass, silent in word but with eyes 
that speak, with sad and languid face, with those burning sighs, 
often with most abundant tears ? When does she ever go forth 
to church or other place, but he is always before her, and meets 
her at every turn of the street with his melancholy passion de- 
picted in his eyes, as if he were expecting instant death? I leave 
aside the fripperies, inventions, mottoes, devices, festivals, dances, 
games, masques, jousts, tourneys! — all which things she knows 
are made for her, 

" Then at night she can never wake but she hears music, or at 
least his unquiet spirit sighing about the house walls and making 
lamentable sounds. If by chance she wishes to speak to one of 
her women, the wench (already corrupted with money) soon has 
ready a little gift, a letter, a sonnet or some such thing to give 
her on the lover's behalf, and then coming in opportunely, makes 
her understand how the poor man is burning with love, and in 
her service cares naught for his own life; and how he seeks 
nothing from her that is less than seemly, and only desires to 
speak with her. Then remedies are found for all difficulties, 
false keys, rope ladders, sleeping potions; the thing is painted as 
of little consequence; instances are given of many other women 
who do far worse. Thus everything is made so easy that she 
has no further trouble than to say, ' I am willing.' And even 
if the poor girl holds back for a time, they add so many induce- 
ments, find so many ways, that with their continual battering 
they break down that which stays her. 

"And when they see that blandishments do not avail them, 
there are many who have resort to threats and say they will 
accuse the woman to her husband of being what she is not. 
Others bargain boldly with the fathers and often with the hus- 
bands, who for money or to get favours give their own daughters 
and wives as an unwilling prey. Others seek by incantations 
and sorceries to steal from them that liberty which God has 
bestowed upon their souls: whereof startling results are seen. 
217 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" But I could not in a thousand years rehearse all the wiles 
that men employ to bring women to their wishes, for the wiles 
are infinite; and besides those that every man finds for himself, 
writers have not been lacking who have ingeniously composed 
books and therein taken every pains to teach how women are to 
be duped in these matters."' Now, among so many snares, think 
how there can be any safety for these simple doves, lured by such 
sweet bait. And what wonder is it, then, if a woman (seeing 
herself thus loved and adored for many years by a beautiful, 
noble and accomplished youth, who a thousand times a day puts 
himself in danger of death to serve her, nor ever thinks of aught 
but to please her) is finally brought to love him by continual 
wearing (as water wears the hardest marble), and, conquered by 
this passion, contents him with that which you say she in the 
weakness of her sex desires more than her lover ? Do you think 
that this errour is so grave that the poor creature who has been 
caught by so many flatteries, does not deserve even that pardon 
which is often vouchsafed to homicides, thieves, assassins and 
traitors? Will you insist that this offence is so heinous that 
because you find some woman commits it, womankind ought to 
be wholly despised and held universally devoid of continence, 
without regard to the many who are found unconquerable, and 
who are proof against love's continual incitements, and firmer in 
their infinite constancy than rocks against the surges of the 
ocean ? " 

51 — Messer Cesare having ceased speaking, my lord Caspar 
then began to reply, but my lord Ottaviano said, laughing: 

" For the love of Heaven, pray grant him the victory, for I 
know you will profit little; and methinks I see that you will 
make not only all these ladies your enemies, but the greater 
part of the men also." 

My lord Gaspar laughed, and said: 

"Nay, the ladies have great cause to thank me; for if I had 
not gainsaid my lord Magnifico and messer Cesare, all these 
praises which they have bestowed upon women would not have 
been heard." 

Then messer Cesare said: 

" The things that my lord Magnifico and I have said in praise 

218 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of women, and many others too, were very well known and 
hence superfluous. 

" Who does not know that without women we can feel no 
content or satisfaction throughout this life of ours, which but for 
them would be rude and devoid of all sweetness and more 
savage than that of wild beasts? Who does not know that 
women alone banish from our hearts all vile and base thoughts, 
vexations, miseries, and those turbid melancholies that so often 
are their fellows? and if you will consider well the truth, we 
shall also see that in our understanding of great matters women 
do not hamper our wits but rather quicken them, and in war 
make men fearless and brave beyond measure. And certainly 
it is impossible for vileness ever again to rule in a man's heart 
where once the flame of love has entered; for whoever loves 
desires always to make himself as lovable as he can, and always 
fears lest some disgrace befall him that may make him to be 
esteemed lightly with her by whom he desires to be esteemed 
highly. Nor does he stop at risking his life a thousand times 
a day to show himself worthy of her love: hence whoever could 
form an army of lovers and have them fight in the presence of 
the ladies of their love, would conquer all the world, unless there 
were opposed to it another army similarly in love. And be well 
assured that Troy's ten years' resistance against all Greece pro- 
ceeded from naught else but a few lovers, who on sallying forth 
to battle, armed themselves in the presence of their women; and 
often these women helped them and spoke some word to them 
at leaving, which inflamed them and made them more than 
men. Then in battle they knew that they were watched by 
their women from the walls and towers; wherefore it seemed to 
them that every act of hardihood they performed, every proof 
they gave, won them their women's praise, which was the 
greatest reward they could have in the world. 

" There are many who think that the victory of King Ferdinand 
of Spain and Queen Isabella against the King of Granada was in 
great part due to women; for very often when the Spanish army 
went out to meet the enemy. Queen Isabella went out also with 
all her maids of honour, and in the army went many noble cava- 
liers who were in love. These always went conversing with 
219 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

their ladies until they reached the place where the enemy were 
seen, then taking leave each of his own lady, they went on in 
this presence to meet the enemy with that fierce spirit which 
was aroused in them by their love and by the desire to make 
their ladies sensible of being served by men of valour; thus a 
very few Spanish cavaliers were often found putting a host of 
Moors to flight and to death, thanks to gentle and beloved women. 

" So I do not see, my lord Gaspar, what perversity of judg- 
ment has led you to cast reproach on women. 

52.—" Do you not know that the origin of all the graceful exer- 
cises that give pleasure in the world is to be ascribed to none 
other than to women? Who learns to dance and caper gallantly 
for aught else than to please women? Who studies the sweetness 
of music for other cause than this? W^ho tries to compose 
verses, in the vernacular at least, unless to express those feelings 
that are inspired by women? Think how many very noble 
poems we should be deprived of, both in the Greek tongue and 
in the Latin, if women had been lightly esteemed by the poets. 
But to pass all the others by, would it not have been a very 
great loss if messer Francesco Petrarch, who so divinely wrote 
his loves in this language of ours, had turned his mind solely to 
things Latin, as he would have done if the love of madonna 
Laura had not sometimes drawn him from them?*"^ I do not 
name you the bright geniuses now on earth and present here, 
who every day put forth some noble fruit and yet choose their 
subject only from the beauties and virtues of women. 

" You see that Solomon, wishing to write mystically of things 
lofty and divine, to cover them with a graceful veil composed a 
fervent and tender dialogue between a lover and his sweetheart, 
deeming that he could not here below find any similitude more 
apt and befitting things divine than love for women; and in this 
way he tried to give us a little of the savour of that divinity 
which he both by knowledge and by grace knew better than the 
rest.*" 

" Hence there was no need, my lord Gaspar, to dispute about 
this, or at least so wordily: but by gainsaying the truth you have 
prevented us from hearing a thousand other fine and weighty 
matters concerning the perfection of the Court Lady." 

220 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

My lord Caspar replied: 

" I believe nothing more is left to say; yet if you think that my 
lord Magnifico has not adorned her with enough good qualities, 
the fault lay not with him, but with the one who arranged that 
there are not more virtues in the world; for the Magnifico gave 
her all there are." 

My lady Duchess said, laughing: 

" You shall now see that my lord Magnifico will find still 
others." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" Indeed, my Lady, methinks I have said enough, and for my 
part I am content with this Lady of mine; and if these gentle- 
men will not have her as she is, let them leave her to me." 

53-— Here everyone remaining silent, messer Federico said: 

" My lord Magnifico, to spur you on to say something more, I 
should like to put you a question concerning what you would 
have the chief business of the Court Lady, and it is this: that I 
wish to hear how she ought to conduct herself with respect to 
one detail which seems to me very important; for although the 
excellent qualities wherewith you have endowed her include 
genius, wisdom, good sense, ease of bearing, modesty, and so 
many other virtues, whereby she ought in reason to be able to 
converse with everyone and on every theme, still I think that 
more than anything else she needs to know that which belongs 
to discussions on love. For as every gentle cavalier uses those 
noble exercises, elegances and fine manners that we have men- 
tioned, as a means to win the favour of women, to this end like- 
wise he employs words; and not only when he is moved by pas- 
sion, but often also to do honour to the lady with whom he is 
speaking, since he thinks that to give signs of love for her is a 
proof that she is worthy of it, and that her beauty and merits are 
so great that they compel every man to serve her. 

" Hence I fain would know how this lady ought to converse on 
such a theme discreetly, and how reply to him who loves her 
truly, and how to him who makes a false pretence thereof; and 
whether she ought to feign not to understand, whether to return 
his love or to refuse, and how conduct herself." 

54 — Then my lord Magnifico said: 

221 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" It would be needful to teach her first to distinguish those 
who pretend to love and those who love truly; then, as to return- 
ing love or not, I think she ought not to be governed by any 
others' wish but her own." 

Messer Federico said: 

" Then teach her what are the surest and safest signs to dis- 
cern false love from true, and with what proof she ought to be 
content in order to be sure of the love shown her." 

The Magnifico replied, laughing: 

" I know not, for men to-day are so cunning that they make 
false pretences without end, and sometimes weep when they 
have great wish to laugh; hence it were necessary to send them 
to Isola Ferma under the True Lovers' Arch.*" 

" But to the end that this Lady of mine (of whom it behooves 
me to take special care, since she is my creation) may not fall 
into those errours wherein I have seen many others fall, I should 
tell her not to be quick to believe herself loved, nor act like some 
who not only do not feign not to understand when court is paid 
to them even covertly, but at the first word accept all the praise 
that is given them, or decline it with a certain air that is rather 
an invitation to love for those with whom they are speaking, 
than a refusal. 

" Therefore the course of conduct that I wish my Court Lady 
to pursue in love talk, will be to refuse always to believe that 
whoever pays court to her for that reason loves her: and if the 
gentleman shall be as pert as many are, and speak to her with 
small respect, she will give him such answer that he may 
clearly understand he is causing her annoyance. Again, if he 
shall be discreet and use modest phrases and words of love 
covertly, with that gentle manner which I think the Courtier 
fashioned by these gentlemen will employ, the lady will feign 
not to understand and will apply his words in another sense, 
always modestly trying to change the subject with that skill and 
prudence which have been said befit her. If, again, the talk is 
such that she cannot feign not to understand, she will take it all 
as a jest, pretending to be aware that it is said to her more out 
of compliment to her than because it is true, depreciating her 
merits and ascribing the praises that he gives her to the gentle- 

222 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

man's courtesy; and in this way she will win a name for discre- 
tion and be safer against deceit. 

" After this fashion methinks the Court Lady ought to conduct 
herself in love talk." 

55.— Then messer Federico said: 

" My lord Magnifico, you discourse of this matter as if every- 
one who pays court to women must needs speak lies and seek 
to deceive them : if the which were true, I should say that your 
teachings were sound; but if this cavalier who is speaking loves 
truly and feels that passion which sometimes so sorely afflicts 
the human heart, do you not consider in what pain, in what 
calamity and mortal anguish you put him by insisting that the 
lady shall never believe anything he says on this subject? Ought 
his supplications, tears, and many other signs to go for naught? 
Have a care, my lord Magnifico, lest it be thought that besides 
the natural cruelty which many of these ladies have in them, 
you are teaching them still more." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" I spoke not of him who loves, but of him who entertains 
with amourous talk, wherein one of the most necessary condi- 
tions is that words shall never be lacking. But just as true 
lovers have glowing hearts, so they have cold tongues, with 
broken speech and sudden silence; wherefore perhaps it would 
not be a false assumption to say: 'Who loves much, speaks 
little.' Yet as to this I believe no certain rule can be given, be- 
cause of the diversity of men's habits; nor could I say anything 
more than that the Lady must be very cautious, and always bear 
in mind that men can declare their love with much less danger 
than women can." 

56.— Then my lord Caspar said, laughing: 

" Would you not, my lord Magnifico, have this admirable 
Lady of yours love in return even when she knows that she is 
loved truly? For if the Courtier were not loved in return, it is 
not conceivable that he should go on loving her; and thus she 
would lose many advantages, and especially that service and 
reverence with which lovers honour and almost adore the virtue 
of their beloved." 

" As to that," replied the Magnifico, " I do not wish to give 
223 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

advice; but I do say that I think love, as you understand it, is 
proper only for unmarried women; for when this love cannot 
end in marriage, the lady must always find in it that remorse 
and sting which things illicit give her, and run risk of staining 
that reputation for chastity which is so important to her." 

Then messer Federico replied, laughing: 

" This opinion of yours, my lord Magnifico, seems to me very 
austere, and I think you have learned it from some preacher — 
one of those who rebuke women for loving laymen, in order to 
have themselves the better part therein. And methinks you im- 
pose too hard a rule on married women, for many of them are 
to be found whose husbands bear them the greatest hatred 
without cause, and affront them grievously, sometimes by loving 
other women, sometimes by causing them all the annoyances 
possible to devise; some against their will are married by their 
fathers to old men, infirm, loathsome and disgusting, who make 
them live in continual misery. If such women were allowed to 
be divorced and separated from those with whom they are ill 
mated, perhaps it would not be fitting for them to love any but 
their husbands; but when, either by enmity of the stars or by un- 
fitness of temperament or by other accident, it happens that the 
marriage bed, which ought to be a nest of concord and of love, 
is strewn by the accursed infernal fury with the seed of its 
venom, which then brings forth anger, suspicion and the stinging 
thorns of hatred to torment those unhappy souls cruelly bound 
by an unbreakable chain until death, — why are you unwilling 
that the woman should be allowed to seek some refuge from the 
heavy lash, and to bestow on others that which is not only 
spurned but hated by her husband? I am quite of the opinion 
that those who have suitable husbands and are loved by them, 
ought not to do. them wrong; but the others wrong themselves 
by not loving those who love them." 

"Nay," replied the Magnifico, "they wrong themselves by 
loving others than their husbands. Still, since not to love is 
often beyond our power, if this mischance shall happen to the 
Court Lady (that her husband's hate or another's love brings 
her to love), I would have her yield her lover nothing but her 
spirit; nor ever let her show him any clear sign of love (either 

224 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

by words or by gestures or by any other means) by which he 
may be sure of it." 

57-— Then messer Roberto da Bari said, laughing: 

" I appeal from this judgment of yours, my lord Magnifico, and 
think I shall have many with me; but since you will teach mar- 
ried women this rusticity, so to speak, do you wish also to have 
the unmarried equally cruel and discourteous? — and complai- 
sant to their lovers in nothing whatever?" 

" If my Court Lady be unmarried," replied my lord Magnifico, 
" and must love, I wish her to love someone whom she can 
marry; nor shall I account it an errour if she shows him some 
sign of love: as to which matter I wish to teach her one uni- 
versal rule in a few words, to the end that she may with little 
pains be able to bear it in mind; and this is, let her show him 
who loves her every token of love except such as may imbue her 
lover's mind with the hope of obtaining something wanton from 
her. And it is necessary to give great heed to this, for it is an 
errour committed by countless women, who commonly desire 
nothing more than to be beautiful: and since to have many 
lovers seems to them proof of their beauty, they take every 
pains to get as many as they can. Thus they are often carried 
into reckless behaviour, and forsaking that temperate modesty 
which so becomes them, they employ certain pert looks with 
scurrile words and acts full of immodesty, thinking that they are 
gladly seen and listened to for this and that by such ways they 
make themselves loved: which is false; for the demonstrations 
that are made to them spring from desire excited by a belief in 
their willingness, not from love. Wherefore I wish that my 
Court Lady may not by wanton behaviour seem to offer herself 
to anyone who wants her and to do her best to lure the eyes and 
appetite of all who look upon her, but that by her merits and 
virtuous conduct, by her loveliness, by her grace, she may imbue 
the mind of all who see her with that true love which is due to 
all things lovable, and with that respect which always deprives 
him of hope who thinks of any wantonness, 

" Moreover, he who is loved by such a woman ought to con- 
tent himself with her every slightest demonstration, and to prize 
a single loving look from her more than complete possession of 
225 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

any other woman; and to such a Lady I should not know how 
to add anything, unless to have her loved by so excellent a 
Courtier as these gentlemen have described, and to have her 
love him also, to the end that they may both attain their com- 
plete perfection." 

58.— Having thus far spoken, my lord Magnifico was silent; 
whereupon my lord Gaspar said, laughing: 

" Now, in sooth, you will not be able to complain that my lord 
Magnifico has not described a most excellent Court Lady; and 
henceforth, if such an one is found, I admit that she deserves to 
be esteemed the Courtier's equal." 

My lady Emilia replied: 

" I engage to find her, provided you will find the Courtier." 

Messer Roberto added: 

♦' Verily it cannot be denied that the Lady described by my 
lord Magnifico is most perfect: nevertheless, as to those last 
conditions of love, methinks he has made her a little too austere, 
especially when he would have her deprive her lover of all hope, 
by words, gestures and behaviour, and do all she can to plunge 
the man in despair. For as everyone knows, human desires do 
not spend themselves upon those things whereof there is not 
some hope. And although a few women may have indeed been 
found, haughty perhaps by reason of their beauty and worth, 
whose first word to anyone who paid them court was that he 
must never expect to have anything from them that he wished, — 
yet afterwards they have been a little more gracious to him in 
look and manner, so that by their kindly acts they have some- 
what tempered their haughty words. But if this Lady by acts 
and words and manner removes all hope, I think our Courtier, 
if he is wise, will never love her; and thus she will have the 
imperfection of being without a lover." 

59-— Then the Magnifico said: 

" I do not wish my Court Lady to remove hope of everything, 
but only of wanton things, which (if the Courtier be as courteous 
and discreet as these gentlemen have described him) he will not 
only not hope for, but will not even wish for. Because if the 
beauty, behaviour, cleverness, goodness, knowledge, modesty, 
and the many other worthy qualities that we have given the 

226 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Lady, are the cause of the Courtier's love for her, the end of 
his love will necessarily be worthy too: and if nobility, excel- 
lence in arms and letters and music, if gentleness and the pos- 
session of so many graces in speech and conversation, be the 
means whereby the Courtier is to win the lady's love, the end of 
that love must needs be of like quality with the means whereby 
it is attained. 

" Moreover, just as there are divers sorts of beauty in the 
world, so too there are divers tastes in men; and thus it happens 
that when they see a woman of that serious beauty, which 
(whether she be going or staying or joking or jesting or doing 
what you will) always so tempers her whole behaviour as to 
induce a certain reverence in anyone who looks upon her, — 
many are abashed and dare not serve her; and lured by hope, 
they oftener love attractive and enticing women, so soft and ten- 
der as to display in words and acts and looks a certain languour- 
ous passion that promises easily to pass and be changed into 
love. 

" To be safe against deceits, some men love another sort of 
women, who are so free of eye and word and movement as to do 
the first thing that comes into their mind with a certain sim- 
plicity which does not hide their thoughts. Nor are there lack- 
ing other generous souls, who — (esteeming that worth is shown in 
difficulty, and that it would be a victory most sweet to conquer 
what to others seems unconquerable), in order to give proof that 
their valour is able to force a stubborn mind and persuade to 
love even wills that are contrary and recusant thereto, — readily 
turn to love the beauties of those women who by eyes and 
words and behaviour show more austere severity than the 
others. Wherefore these men who are so self-confident, and 
who account themselves secure against being deceived, willingly 
love certain women also who by cunning and art seem to con- 
ceal a thousand wiles with beauty; or else some others, who 
along with their beauty have a coquettishly disdainful manner 
of few words and few laughs, with almost an air of prizing little 
every man who looks upon them or serves them. 

" Then there are certain other men who deign to love only 
those women who in face and speech and every movement carry 
227 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

all elegance, all gentle manners, all knowledge, and all the 
graces heaped together, — like a single flower composed of all 
the excellences in the world. Thus if my Court Lady have a 
dearth of those loves that spring from evil hope, she will not on 
that account be left without a lover; for she will not lack those 
loves that spring both from her merits and from her lovers' con- 
fidence in their own worth, whereby they will know themselves 
to be worthy of being loved by her." 

60.— Messer Roberto still objected, but my lady Duchess held 
him in the wrong, supporting my lord Magnifico's argument; 
then she continued: 

" We have no cause to complain of my lord Magnifico, for I 
truly think that the Court Lady described by him may stand on 
a par with the Courtier, and even with some advantage; for he 
has taught her how to love, which these gentlemen did not do 
for their Courtier." 

Then the Unico Aretino said: 

" It is very fitting to teach women how to love, for rarely have 
I seen any that knew how: since they nearly all accompany 
their beauty with cruelty and ingratitude towards those who 
serve them most faithfully and deserve the reward of their love 
by nobility of birth, gentleness and worth ; and then they often 
give themselves a prey to men who are very silly, base, and of 
small account, and who not only love them not, but hate them. 

" So, to avoid such grievous errours as these, perhaps it was 
w^ell to teach them first how to make choice of a man who shall 
deserve to be loved, and then how to love him ; which is not 
needful in the case of men, who know it but too well of them- 
selves. And here I can be a good witness; for love was never 
taught me save by the divine beauty and divinest behaviour of 
a Lady whom it was beyond my power not to adore, wherein I 
had no need of art or any master ;'"" and I think that the same 
happens with all who love truly. Hence it were fitting to teach 
the Courtier how to make himself loved rather than how to 
love." 

61.— Here my lady Emilia said: 

" Then discourse of this now, my lord Unico." 

The Unico replied : 

228 














BERNARDO ACCOLTI 

THE UNICO ARETINO 

1465?- 1535 

Head enlarged from a photograph, specially made by Alinari, of a part of the fresco, 
"Leo X's Entry into Florence," in the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, by Giorgio Vasari 
(1511-1574). See Milanesi's edition of Vasari's Opere, viii, 143. 



ITJO03A OC 



liiSiioia vtl .tiinriri.'? -1. "u-fjroV 'ji.tttl 3<ij ni ".sjniiofi oJoi ifima «'X oad " 



828 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Methinks reason would require that ladies' favour should be 
won by serving and pleasing them; but by what they deem 
themselves served and pleased, I think must needs be learned 
from ladies themselves, who often desire things so strange that 
there is no man who would imagine the same, and sometimes 
they do not themselves know what they desire. Hence it is 
right that you, my Lady, who are a woman and so must surely 
know what pleases women, should undertake this task, to do the 
world so great a benefit." 

Then my lady Emilia said: 

" The very great favour that you always find with women is 
good proof that you know all the ways by which their grace is 
won; hence it is quite fitting that you should teach them." 

" My Lady," replied the Unico, " I could give a lover no more 
useful warning than to look to it that you have no influence over 
the lady whose favour he seeks; for such good qualities as the 
world once thought were in me, together with the sincerest love 
that ever was, have not had so much power to make me loved 
as you have to make me hated." 

62.— Then my lady Emilia replied: 

" My lord Unico, God forbid that I should even think, much 
less do, anything to make you hated; for besides doing what I 
ought not, I should be esteemed of little sense for attempting the 
impossible. But since you urge me thus to speak of that which 
pleases women, I will speak; and if you shall be displeased, 
blame yourself for it. 

" I think, then, that whoever would be loved must love and be 
lovable; and that these two things suffice to win women's favour. 

" Now to answer that which you accuse me of, I say that 
everyone knows and sees that you are very lovable; but whether 
you love as sincerely as you say, I am very much in doubt, and 
perhaps the others too. For your being too lovable has brought 
it to pass that you have been loved by many women : and great 
rivers divided into many parts become little streams; so love, 
bestowed upon more than one object, has little strength. But 
these continual laments of yours, and complaints of ingratitude 
in the women you have served (which is not probable, in view 
of your great merits), are a certain sort of mystery to hide the 
229 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

favours, contentments and pleasures attained by you in love, and 
to assure the women who love you and have given themselves to 
you, that you will not betray them; and hence also they are con- 
tent that you should thus openly display feigned love for others 
to hide their real love for you. So, if the women whom you now 
pretend to love are not so ready to believe it as you would like, 
the reason is because this artfulness of yours in love is beginning 
to be understood, not because I make you hated." 

63.— Then my lord Unico said: 

" I do not wish to try again to confute your words, because I at 
last perceive that it is as much my fate not to be believed when 
I say truth, as it is yours to be believed when you say untruth." 

" Say rather, my lord Unico," replied by lady Emilia, " that 
you do not love as you would have us believe; for if you loved, 
all your desire would be to please your beloved lady and to wish 
what she wishes, because this is the law of love; but your thus 
complaining of her denotes some deceit, as 'I said, or indeed 
gives proof that you wish what she does not wish." 

" Nay," said my lord Unico, " indeed I wish what she wishes, 
which is proof that I love her; but I complain that she does not 
wish what I wish, which is a token that she loves me not, ac- 
cording to that same rule that you have cited." 

My lady Emilia replied: 

" He who begins to love ought also to begin to please his 
beloved and bend himself wholly to her wishes, and govern his 
by hers; and make his own desires her slaves, and his very soul 
like unto an obedient handmaid, nor ever think of aught but to 
let it be transformed, if possible, into that of his beloved, and to 
account this as his highest happiness; for they do thus who love 
truly." 

"Assuredly," said my lord Unico, "my highest happiness 
would be to have a single wish rule her soul and mine." 

" It rests with you to have it so," replied my lady Emilia. 

64.— Then messer Bernardo interrupted and said: 

" Certain it is that he who loves truly bends all his thoughts to 
serve and please the lady of his love, without being shown the 
way by others; but as these loving services are sometimes not 
clearly perceived, I think that besides loving and serving it is 

230 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

further necessary to make some other demonstration of his love 
so evident that the lady cannot hide her knowledge that she is 
loved; yet with such modesty withal that he may not seem to 
have small respect for her. And since you, my Lady, began to 
tell how the lover's soul must be the obedient handmaid of his 
beloved, I pray you explain this secret also, which seems to me 
very important," 

Messer Cesare laughed, and said: 

" If the lover is so modest that he is ashamed to tell her of his 
love, let him write it to her." 

My lady Emilia added: 

" Nay, if he is as discreet as becomes him, he ought to be sure 
of not offending her before he declares himself to her." 

Then my lord Caspar said: 

"All women like to be sued in love, even though they mean to 
refuse that which they are sued for." 

The Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

"You are very wrong; nor should I advise the Courtier ever 
to employ this method, unless he be certain of not being re- 
pulsed." 

65.—" Then what is he to do? " said my lord Caspar. 

The Magnifico continued: 

" If he must speak or write, let him do it with such modesty 
and so warily that his first words shall try her mind, and shall 
touch so ambiguously upon her wish as to leave a way and cer- 
tain loophole that may enable her to feign not to see that his 
discourse imports love, to the end that he may retreat in case of 
difficulty and pretend that he spoke or wrote to some other end, 
in order to enjoy in safety those intimate caresses and coquet- 
ries that a woman often grants to him who she thinks accepts 
them in friendships and then withholds them as soon as she finds 
they are received as demonstrations of love. Hence those men 
who are too precipitate and venture thus presumptuously with a 
kind of fury and stubbornness, often lose these favours, and 
deservedly; for every noble lady regards herself as little 
esteemed by him who rudely wooes her before having done her 
service. 

66.—" Therefore in my opinion the way that the Courtier ought 

231 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

to take to make his love known to the Lady, seems to me to be 
by showing it to her in manner rather than in words; — for verily 
more of love's affection is sometimes revealed in a sigh, in rever- 
ence, in timidity, than in a thousand words; — next by making 
his eyes to be faithful messengers to bear the embassies of his 
heart, since they often show the passion that is within more 
clearly than the tongue itself or letters or other couriers: so that 
they not only disclose thoughts, but often kindle love in the 
beloved's heart. Because those quick spirits that issue from the 
eyes, being generated near the heart, enter again by the eyes 
(whither they are aimed like an arrow at the mark), and natu- 
rally reach the heart as if it were their abode, and mingling with 
those other spirits there and with that subtle quality of blood 
which they have in them, they infect the blood near the heart to 
w^hich they have come, and warm it, and make it like themselves 
and ready to receive the impression of that image which they 
have brought with them. Travelling thus to and fro over the 
road from eyes to heart, and bringing back the tinder and steel 
of beauty and grace, little by little these messengers fan with the 
breath of desire that fire which glows so ardently and never 
ceases to burn because they are always bringing it the fuel 
of hope to feed on. 

" Hence it may be well said that eyes are the guide in love, 
especially if they are kind and soft; black, of a bright and gentle 
blackness, or blue; merry and laughing, so gracious and keen 
of glance, like some wherein the channels that give the spirits 
egress seem so deep that through them we can see the very 
heart. Then the eyes lie in wait, just as in war soldiers lurk in 
ambush; and if the form of the whole body is fair and well pro- 
portioned, it attracts and allures anyone who looks upon it from 
afar until he approaches, and, as soon as he is near, the eyes dart 
forth and bewitch like sorcerers; and especially when they send 
out their rays straight to the eyes of the beloved at a moment 
when these are doing the same; because the spirits meet, and in 
that sweet encounter each receives the other's quality, as we see 
in the case of an eye diseased, which by looking fixedly into a 
sound one imparts thereto its own disease. So methinks in this 
way our Courtier can in great part manifest his love for his Lady. 

232 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" True it is that if the eyes are not governed with skill, they 
often most disclose a man's amourous desires to whom he least 
would do so ; for through them there shines forth almost visibly 
that ardent passion which (while wishing to reveal it only to his 
beloved) the lover often reveals also to those from whom he 
most would hide it. Therefore he who has not lost the bridle of 
reason, governs himself cautiously and observes time and place, 
and abstains when needful from such intent gazing, sweetest 
food though it be; for an open love is too difficult a thing." 

67.— Count Ludovico replied: 

" Sometimes even openness does no harm, for in this case men 
often think such a love affair is not tending to the end which 
every lover desires, seeing that little care is taken to hide it, nor 
any heed given whether it be known or not; and so, by not deny- 
ing it, a man wins a certain freedom that enables him to speak 
openly with his beloved and to be with her without suspicion; 
which those do not win who try to be secret, because they seem 
to hope for and to be near some great reward that they would 
not have others discover. 

" Moreover I have often seen very ardent love spring up in a 
woman's heart towards a man for whom she had at first not had 
the least affection, simply from hearing that many deemed them 
to be in love; and I think the reason of this was because such an 
universal opinion as that seemed to her sufficient proof to make 
her believe the man worthy of her love, and it seemed as if 
report brought her messages from the lover much truer and 
worthier of belief than he himself could have sent by letters and 
words, or another for him. 

" Thus, this public report not only sometimes does no harm, 
but helps." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" Love affairs that have report for their minister put a man in 
great danger of being pointed at with the finger; and hence he 
who would travel this road safely, must feign to have less fire 
within him than he has, and content himself with that which 
seems little to him, and conceal his desires, jealousies, griefs and 
joys, and often laugh with his mouth when his heart is weeping, 
and feign to be prodigal of that whereof he most is chary; and 

233 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

these things are so difficult to do, that they are almost impos- 
sible. Therefore if our Courtier would follow my advice, I 
should exhort him to keep his love affairs secret." 

68.— Then messer Bernardo said: 

" There is need, then, for you to teach him how, and methinks 
it is of no small importance; for, besides the signals which men 
sometimes make so covertly that almost without a motion the 
person whom they wish reads in their face and eyes what is 
in their heart, — I have sometimes heard a long and free love 
talk between two lovers, of which, however, those present could 
understand clearly no details at all or even be sure that the talk 
was about love. And the reason of this lay in the speakers' dis- 
cretion and precaution; for without showing any sign of annoy- 
ance at being listened to, they whispered only those words that 
signified, and spoke aloud the rest, which could be construed 
in different senses." 

Then messer Federico said: 

" To speak thus minutely about these precautions of secrecy 
would be a journey into the infinite; hence I would rather have 
some little discussion as to how the lover ought to maintain his 
lady's favour, which seems to me much more necessary." 

69.— The Magnifico replied: 

" I think that those means which serve to win it serve also 
to maintain it; and all this consists in pleasing the lady of our 
love without ever offending her. Wherefore it would be diffi- 
cult to give any fixed rule for it; since in countless ways he 
who is not very discreet sometimes makes mistakes that seem 
little and yet grievously offend the lady's spirit; and this befalls 
those, more than others, who are overmastered by passion: like 
some who, whenever they have means of speaking to the lady 
whom they love, lament and complain so bitterly and often wish 
for things that are so impossible, that they become wearisome 
by their very importunity. Others, when they are stung by any 
jealousy, allow themselves to be so carried away by their grief 
that they heedlessly run into speaking evil of him whom they 
suspect, and sometimes without fault either on his part or on the 
lady's, and insist that she shall not speak to him or even turn 
her eyes in the direction where he is. And by this behaviour 

234 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

they often not only offend the lady, but are the cause that leads 
her to love the man: because the fear that lovers sometimes 
display lest their lady forsake them for another, shows that they 
are conscious of being inferior to him in merits and worth, and 
with this idea the lady is moved to love him, and perceiving that 
evil is said of him to put him out of favour, she believes it not 
although it be true, and loves him all the more." 

70 Then messer Cesare said, laughing: 

" I own I am not so wise that I could abstain from speaking 
evil of my rival, except you were to teach me some other better 
means of ruining him." 

My lord Magnifico replied, laughing: 

" There is a proverb which says that when our enemy is in the 
water up to the belt, we must offer him our hand and lift him out 
of peril; but when he is in up to the chin, we must set our foot 
on his head and drown him outright. Thus there are some who 
do this with their rival, and as long as they have no safe way of 
ruining him, go about dissimulating and pretend to be rather his 
friend than otherwise; then if an opportunity offers — such that 
they know they can overwhelm him with certain ruin by saying 
all manner of evil of him (whether it be true or false), — they do 
it without mercy, with craft, deception and all the means they 
know how to invent. 

" But since it would never please me to have our Courtier use 
any deceit, I would have him deprive his rival of the lady's 
favour by no other craft than by loving and serving her, and by 
being worthy, valiant, discreet and modest; in short, by deserv- 
ing her better than his rival, and by being in all things wary and 
prudent, abstaining from all stupid follies, wherein many dunces 
fall and in diverse ways. For in the past I have known some 
who use Poliphilian words in writing and speaking to women,'* 
and so insist upon the niceties of rhetoric, that the women are 
diffident of themselves and account themselves very ignorant, 
and think each hour of such discourse a thousand years, and rise 
before the end. Others are immoderately boastful. Others often 
say things that redound to their own discredit and damage, like 
some I am wont to laugh at, who profess to be in love and some- 
times say in the presence of women: 'I have never found a 
235 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

woman to love me;' and they do not perceive that those who 
hear them at once conclude that this can arise from no other 
reason than that they deserve neither love nor the water they 
drink, and hold them for men of slight account, and would not 
love them for all the gold in the world, thinking that to love 
them would be to stand lower than all the other women who 
loved them not. 

" Still others are so silly that for the purpose of bringing 
odium upon some rival of theirs, they say in the presence of 
women: 'So and So is the luckiest man on earth; for although 
he is not at all handsome, discreet or valiant, and cannot do or 
say more than the rest, yet all the women love him and run after 
him ; ' and thus showing themselves to be envious of the man's 
good luck, they incite belief that (although he shows himself to 
be lovable in neither looks nor acts) he has in him some hidden 
quality for which he deserves so many women's love; hence 
those who hear him thus spoken of are by this belief even much 
more moved to love him." 

71 — Then Count Ludovico laughed, and said: 

" I assure you that the discreet Courtier will never use these 
stupidities to win favour with women." 

Messer Cesare Gonzaga replied: 

" Nor yet that one which was used in my time by a gentle- 
man of great repute, whose name for the honour of men I will 
not mention." 

My lady Duchess replied: 

" At least tell what he did." 

Messer Cesare continued: 

" Being loved by a great lady, at her request he came secretly 
to the place where she was; and after he had seen her and con- 
versed with her as long as she and the time allowed, taking his 
leave with many bitter tears and sighs, in token of the extreme 
sorrow that he felt at such a parting, he besought her to keep 
him continually in mind; and then he added that she ought to 
pay his board and lodging, for as he had been invited by her, it 
seemed to him reasonable that he should be at no charge for his 
coming." 

Then all the ladies began to laugh and to say that he was 

236 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

quite unworthy to be called a gentleman ; and many of the men 
were ashamed, with that shame which the man himself would 
have rightly felt if he had at any time found wit enough to be 
conscious of such a shameful fault. 

My lord Caspar then turned to messer Cesare, and said: 

" It was better to refrain from telling this thing for the honour 
of women, than to refrain for the honour of men from naming 
him; for you can well imagine what good judgment that great 
lady had in loving such a senseless animal, and also that of the 
many who served her perhaps she had chosen this one as the 
most discreet, forsaking and misliking men whose lackey he was 
unworthy to be." 

Count Ludovico laughed, and said: 

" Who knows that he was not discreet in other things, and 
failed only as to board and lodging? But many times men com- 
mit great follies in their excessive love; and if you will say the 
truth, perhaps it has befallen you to commit more than one." 

72.— Messer Cesare replied, laughing: 

" By your faith, do not expose our errours." 

" Nay, it is necessary to expose them," replied my lord Caspar, 
"in order that we may know how to correct them;" then he 
added: " My lord Magnifico, now that the Courtier knows how 
to win and maintain his lady's favour and to deprive his rival of 
it, you must teach him how to keep his love affairs secret." 

The Magnifico replied: 

" Methinks I have said enough; so now choose someone else 
to speak of this secrecy." 

Then messer Bernardo and all the others began to urge him 
anew; and the Magnifico said, laughing: 

" You wish to tempt me. All of you are too well practised in 
love: yet if you would know more, go read it in Ovid." 

"And how," said messer Bernardo, "should I hope that his 
precepts are of any service in love, when he recommends and 
says it is a very good thing that a man should pretend to be 
drunk in the presence of the beloved?*" See what a fine way of 
winning favour! And he cites as a fine method of making one's 
love known to a lady at a banquet, to dip a finger in wine and 
write it on the table." '" 

237 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

The Magnifico replied, laughing: 

" In those days it was not amiss." 

" And therefore," said messer Bernardo, " since such a filthy 
trick as this was not offensive to the men of that time, we may 
believe that they did not have so gentle a manner of serving 
women in love as we have. But let us not forsake our first sub- 
ject, of teaching how to keep love secret." 

73.— Then the Magnifico said : 

" In my opinion, in order to keep love secret it is needful to 
avoid the causes that make it public, which are many; but there 
is one chief cause, which is the wish to be too secret and not 
trust any person whatever. For every lover desires to make 
his passion known to his beloved, and being alone he is forced to 
make many more and stronger demonstrations than if he were 
aided by some loving and faithful friend; because the demonstra- 
tions that the lover himself makes arouse much greater suspicion 
than those he makes through intermediaries. And since the 
human mind is naturally curious to find things out, as soon as a 
stranger begins to suspect, he employs such diligence that he 
learns the truth, and having learned it, makes no scruple to pub- 
lish it — nay, sometimes delights to do so; which is not the case 
with a friend, who besides helping with comfort and advice, often 
repairs those mistakes which the blind lover commits, and always 
contrives secrecy and provides for many things for which he 
himself cannot provide. Moreover very great relief is felt in 
telling our passion and unburdening it to a trusty friend, and like- 
wise it greatly enhances our joys to be able to impart them." 

74-— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" Another cause discloses love more than this." 

" And what is it?" replied the Magnifico. 

My lord Gaspar continued: 

" The vain ambition joined with madness and cruelty of 
women ; who, as you yourself have said, try to have as great a 
number of lovers as they can, and if it were possible would have 
all of these burn and (once made ashes) after death return alive 
to die once more. And even although they be in love, still they 
delight in their lover's torment, because they think that pain and 
afflictions and continual calling fpr death give good proof that 

238 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

they are loved, and can, by their beauty, make men wretched and 
happy, and bestow death and life, as they please. Hence they 
feed only on this food, and are so eager for it that (in order not 
to be without it) they do not satisfy or ever quite dishearten their 
lovers; but to keep these continually in anguish and desire, they 
use a certain domineering severity of threats mingled with en- 
couragement, and fain would have a word, a look, a nod of theirs 
esteemed as highest bliss. And to be deemed modest and chaste, 
not only by their lovers but by all the rest, they take care to 
make their harsh and discourteous behaviour public, to the end 
that everyone may think that if they thus maltreat those who 
are worthy to be loved, they must treat the unworthy much 
worse. 

" And in this belief, thinking they thus have artfully made 
themselves secure against infamy, they often spend every night 
with vilest men whom they scarcely know ; and so, to enjoy the 
calamities and continual laments of some noble cavalier whom 
they love, they deny themselves those pleasures which they 
might perhaps attain with some excuse; and they are the cause 
that forces the poor lover in sheer desperation to behaviour 
which brings to light that which every care ought to be taken to 
keep most secret. 

"Some others there are, who, if by trickery they succeed in 
leading many a man to think himself loved by them, nourish the 
jealousy of each by bestowing caresses and favour on one in the 
presence of another; and when they see that he too whom they 
most love is nearly sure of being loved because of the demonstra- 
tions shown him, they often put him in suspense by ambiguous 
words and pretended anger, and pierce his heart, feigning to care 
nothing for him and to wish to give themselves wholly to another; 
whence arise hatreds, enmities and countless scandals and mani- 
fest ruin, for in such a case a man must show the passion that 
he feels, even though it result in blame and infamy to the lady. 

"Others, not content with this single torment of jealousy, after 
the lover has given all proofs of love and faithful service, and 
after they have received the same with some sign of returning it 
with good will, they begin to draw back without cause and when 
it is least expected, and pretend to believe that he has grown 

239 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

lukewarm, and feigning new suspicions that they are not loved, 
they give sign of wishing to break with him absolutely. And so, 
because of these obstacles, the poor fellow is by very force com- 
pelled to go back to the start and pay court as if his service were 
beginning; and daily to walk the earth, and when the lady stirs 
abroad to accompany her to church and everywhere she goes, 
never to turn his eyes another way: and now he returns to 
plaints and sighs and heaviness of heart, and if he can speak 
with her, to supplications, blasphemies, despairings, and all those 
ragings to which unhappy lovers are put by these fierce monsters, 
who have a greater thirst for blood than tigers have. 

75 "Such woeful demonstrations as these are but too much seen 

and known, and often more by others than by her who occasions 
them; and thus in a few days they become so public that not a 
step can be taken, nor the least signal given, that is not noted by 
a thousand eyes. Then it happens that long before there are any 
sweets of love between them, they are believed and judged by all 
the world; for when women see that the lover, now nigh to death 
and overwhelmed by the cruelty and tortures inflicted on him, is 
firmly and really resolving to withdraw, they at once begin to 
show him that they love him heartily, and to do him all manner 
of kindness, and to yield to him, to the end that (his ardent desire 
having failed) the fruits of love may be less sweet to him and he 
may have less to thank them for, in order to do everything amiss. 

"And their love being now very well known, at the same time 
all the results that proceed from it are also very well known; 
thus the women are dishonoured, and the lover finds that he has 
lost time and pains and has shortened his life in sorrows, without 
the least advantage or pleasure; for he attained his desires, not 
when they would have made him very happy with their pleas- 
antness, but when he cared little or nothing for them, because 
his heart was ialready so deadened by his cruel passion that 
it had no feeling left wherewith to enjoy the delight or content- 
ment which was offered him." 

76.— Then my lord Ottaviano said, laughing: 

" You held your peace awhile and refrained from saying 
evil of women; then you hit them so hard that it seems as if you 
were gathering strength, like those who draw back in order 

240 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

to strike the harder; and verily you are in the wrong and ought 
henceforth to be gentler." 

My lady Emilia laughed, and turning to my lady Duchess, 
said: 

" You see, my Lady, that our adversaries are beginning to 
quarrel and differ among themselves." 

" Call me not so," replied my lord Ottaviano, " for I am not 
your adversary. This contest has displeased me much, not 
because I was sorry to see the victory in favour of women, but 
because it has led my lord Caspar to revile them more than 
he ought, and my lord Magnifico and messer Cesare to praise 
them perhaps a little more than their due; besides which, owing 
to the length of the discussion, we have missed hearing many 
other fine things that remained to say about the Courtier." 

" You see," said my lady Emilia, " that you are our adversary 
after all; and for that reason you are displeased with the late 
discussion, and fain would not have had so excellent a Court 
Lady described; not because you had anything more to say 
about the Courtier (for these gentlemen have said all they knew, 
and I think that neither you nor anyone else could add anything 
whatever), but because of the envy that you have of women's 
honour." 

77-—" Certain it is," replied my lord Ottaviano, " that besides 
the things that have been said about the Courtier, I should like 
to hear many others. Still, since everyone is content to have 
him as he is, I also am content; nor should I change him in 
aught else, unless in making him a little more friendly to women 
than my lord Caspar is, albeit perhaps not so much so as some 
of these other gentlemen," 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

" By all means we must see whether your talents are so great 
that they can give the Courtier greater perfection than these 
gentlemen have given him. So please to say what you have in 
mind: else we shall think that even you cannot add anything to 
what has been said, but that you wished to detract from the 
praises of the Court Lady because you think her the equal of the 
Courtier, who you would therefore have us believe could be 
much more perfect than these gentlemen have described him." 
241 



THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

My lord Ottaviano laughed, and said: 

"The praise and censure that have been bestowed on women 
beyond their due have so filled the ears and mind of the com- 
pany as to leave no room for anything else to lodge; besides 
this, in my opinion the hour is very late." 

"Then," said my lady Duchess, "we shall have more time by 
w^aiting till to-morrow; and meanwhile this praise and censure, 
which you say have been on both sides bestowed excessively on 
women, will leave these gentlemen's minds, and thus they will 
better appreciate that truth which you will tell them." 

So saying, my lady Duchess rose to her feet, and courteously 
dismissing the company, retired to her more private room, and 
everyone went to rest. 



242 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 
BY COUNT BALDESAR CASTIGLIONE 

TO MESSER ALFONSO ARIOSTO 

1.— Thinking to write out the discussions that were held on the 
fourth evening, after those mentioned in the previous Books, 
among various reflections I feel one bitter thought that strikes 
my heart, and makes me mindful of human miseries and our 
deceptive hopes: and how fortune, often in mid-course and some- 
times near the end, shatters our frail and vain designs, and some- 
times wrecks them before the haven can be even seen afar. 

Thus I recall that not long after these discussions took place, 
importunate death deprived our court of three very rare gentle- 
men while they were in the flower of robust health and hope of 
honour. And of these the first was my lord Caspar Pallavicino, 
who being assailed by an acute disease and more than once 
brought low, although his courage was of such vigour that for a 
season it held spirit and body together in spite of death, yet 
ended his natural course far before his time;*''' a very great loss 
not only to our court and to his friends and family, but to his 
native land and to all Lombardy. 

Not long afterwards died messer Cesare Gonzaga, who to all 
those who had acquaintance with him left a bitter and painful 
memory of his death;*** for since nature produces such men as 
rarely as she does, it seemed only fitting that she should not so 
soon deprive us of this one: because it certainly may be said that 
messer Cesare was carried off just when he was beginning to 
give something more than promise of himself, and to be esteemed 
as his admirable qualities deserved; for already, by many meri- 
torious efforts he had given good proof of his worth, which shone 
forth not only in noble birth, but also in the ornament of letters 
and of arms, and in every kind of laudable behaviour; so that, 
by reason of his goodness, capacity, courage and wisdom, there 
was nothing so great that it might not be expected from him. 

243 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

No long time passed before the death of messer Roberto da 
Bari also inflicted deep sorrow upon the whole court;'" for it 
seemed reasonable that everyone should lament the death of a 
youth of good behaviour, agreeable, fair of aspect, and of very 
rare personal grace, and of as stout and sturdy temper as could 
be wished. 

2.— If, then, these men had lived, I think they would have 
reached such eminence that they would have been able to give 
everyone who knew them clear proof how worthy the court of 
Urbino was of praise, and how adorned with noble cavaliers; 
which nearly all the others have done who were reared there. 
For verily the Trojan Horse did not send forth so many lords 
and captains as this court has sent forth men singular in worth 
and most highly prized by everyone. Thus, as you know, 
messer Federico Fregoso was made Archbishop of Salerno; 
Count Ludovico, Bishop of Bayeux; my lord Ottaviano, Doge 
of Genoa; messer Bernardo Bibbiena, Cardinal of Santa Maria 
in Portico; messer Pietro Bembo, secretary to Pope Leo; my 
lord Magnifico rose to the dukedom of Nemours and to that 
greatness where he now is. My lord Francesco Maria della 
Rovere also. Prefect of Rome, was made Duke of Urbino:"' 
albeit much higher praise may be accorded to the court where 
he was nurtured, because he there became a rare and excellent 
lord in every quality of worth, as we now see, than because he 
attained the dukedom of Urbino; nor do I believe that a small 
cause of this was the noble company in whose daily converse 
he always saw and heard laudable behaviour. 

However, it seems to me that the cause, whether chance or 
favour of the stars, which has so long granted excellent lords to 
Urbino, still continues and produces the same results; and hence 
we may hope that fair fortune must further so bless these good 
works, that the welfare of the house and state shall not only not 
wane but rather wax from day to day: and of this many bright 
auguries are already to be seen, among which I esteem the chief 
to be Heaven's bestowal of such a mistress as is my lady Eleanora 
Gonzaga, the new Duchess;"' for if ever in a single body there 
were joined wisdom, grace, beauty, capacity, tact, humanity, and 
every other gentle quality, — in her they are so united that they 

244 



^£^.''h * -*^ ■' 



/ 1^ ^'.V'-^lk'.Kfei'^ifr \^ J -f^t %K. k>c^^^ 



FRANCESCO MARIA DELLA ROVERE 

DUKE OF URBINO 

1490-1538 

Reduced from Brauo's photograph (no. 40.605) of the portrait, in the Uffiii Gallery at 
Florence, by Titian (1477- 1576). 




THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

form a chain which completes and adorns her every movement 
with all these qualities at once. 

Let us now continue the discussion about our Courtier, in the 
hope that after us there ought to be no lack of those who will 
find bright and honoured examples of worth in the present court 
of Urbino, just as we now do in that of bygone times. 

3-— It seemed, then, as my lord Caspar Pallavicino used to 
relate, that the following day after the discussions contained in 
the preceding Book, little was seen of my lord Ottaviano; hence 
many thought that he had retired in order that he might without 
hindrance think carefully of what he had to say. Thus, the 
company having betaken themselves to my lady Duchess at the 
accustomed hour, search had to be made far and wide for my 
lord Ottaviano, who did not appear for a good space; so that 
many cavaliers and maids of honour of the court began to dance 
and engage in other pastimes, thinking that for that evening 
there would be no more talk about the Courtier. And indeed all 
were busied, some with one thing and some with another, when 
my lord Ottaviano arrived, after he had almost been given up; 
and seeing that messer Cesare Gonzaga and my lord Caspar 
were dancing, he bowed to my lady Duchess and said, laughing: 

" I quite expected to hear my lord Caspar say some evil 
about women again this evening; but seeing him dance with one, 
I think that he has made his peace with all of them; and I am 
glad that the dispute (or rather the discussion) about the Courtier 
has ended thus." 

" It is by no means ended," replied my lady Duchess; "for I 
am no such enemy of men as you are of women, and therefore I 
am unwilling that the Courtier should be deprived of his due 
honour, and of those ornaments that you promised him last even- 
ing;" and so saying, she directed that as soon as the dance was 
finished, everyone should sit down in the usual order, which was 
done; and when all were giving close attention, my lord Otta- 
viano said: 

" My Lady, since my wish to have the Courtier possess many 

other good qualities is taken as a promise to tell what they are, 

I am content to speak about them, not with any hope of saying 

all that might be said, but merely enough to clear your mind of 

245 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the charge that was made against me last evening, to wit: that 
I spoke as I did rather for the purpose of detracting from the 
Court Lady's praises (by raising a false belief that other excel- 
lences can be ascribed to the Courtier, and by thus artfully mak- 
ing him her superior), than because what I said was true. 
Wherefore, to adapt myself to the hour, which is later than it is 
wont to be when we begin our discussions, I shall be brief. 

4 — " So, to pursue these gentlemen's discourse, which I wholly 
approve and confirm, I say that of the things that we call good, 
there are some which simply and in themselves are always good, 
like temperance, fortitude, health, and all the virtues that bestow 
tranquillity upon the mind; others, which are good in various 
respects and for the object to which they tend, like law, liberal- 
ity, riches, and other like things. Hence I think that the perfect 
Courtier, such as Count Ludovico and messer Federico have de- 
scribed, may be a truly good thing and worthy of praise, not 
however simply and in himself, but in respect to the end to which 
he may be directed. For indeed if by being nobly born, graceful, 
agreeable, and expert in so many exercises, the Courtier brought 
forth no other fruit than merely being what he is, I should not 
deem it right for a man to devote so much study and pains to 
acquiring this perfection of Courtiership, as anyone must who 
wishes to attain it. Nay, I should say that many of those accom- 
plishments that have been ascribed to him (like dancing, merry- 
making, singing and playing) were follies and vanities, and in a 
man of rank worthy rather of censure than of praise: for these 
elegances, devices, mottoes, and other like things that pertain to 
discourse about women and love, although perhaps many other 
men think the contrary, often serve only to effeminate the mind, 
to corrupt youth, and to reduce it to great wantonness of living; 
whence then it comes to pass that the Italian name is brought 
into opprobrium, and but few are to be found who dare, I will 
not say to die, but even to run into danger. 

" And surely there are countless other things, which, if industry 
and study were spent upon them, would be of much greater 
utility in both peace and war than this kind of Courtiership in 
itself merely; but if the Courtier's actions are directed to that 
good end to which they ought, and which I have in mind, 

246 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

methinks they are not only not harmful or vain, but very useful 
and deserving of infinite praise. 

5-—" I think then that the aim of the perfect Courtier, which 
has not been spoken of till now, is so to win for himself, by 
means of the accomplishments ascribed to him by these gentle- 
men, the favour and mind of the prince whom he serves, that he 
may be able to say, and always shall say, the truth about every- 
thing which it is fitting for the prince to know, without fear or 
risk of giving offence thereby; and that when he sees his prince's 
mind inclined to do something wrong, he may be quick to oppose, 
and gently to make use of the favour acquired by his good 
accomplishments, so as to banish every bad intent and lead his 
prince into the path of virtue. And thus, possessing the good- 
ness which these gentlemen have described, together with readi- 
ness of wit and pleasantness, and shrewdness and knowledge of 
letters and many other things, — the Courtier will in every case 
be able deftly to show the prince how much honour and profit 
accrue to him and his from justice, liberality, magnanimity, gen- 
tleness, and the other virtues that become a good prince; and on 
the other hand how much infamy and loss proceed from the 
vices opposed to them. Therefore I think that just as music, 
festivals, games, and the other pleasant accomplishments are as 
it were the flower, in like manner to lead or help one's prince 
towards right, and to frighten him from wrong, are the true fruit 
of Courtiership. 

"And since the merit of well-doing lies chiefly in two things, 
one of which is the choice of an end for our intentions that shall 
be truly good, and the other ability to find means suitable and 
fitting to conduce to that good end marked out, — certain it is 
that that man's mind tends to the best end, who purposes to see 
to it that his prince shall be deceived by no one, shall hearken not 
to flatterers or to slanderers and liars, and shall distinguish good 
and evil, and love the one and hate the other. 

6 — " Methinks, too, that the accomplishments ascribed to the 
Courtier by these gentlemen may be a good means of arriving 
at that end; and this because among the many faults which 
to-day we see in many of our princes, the greatest are ignorance 
and self-esteem. And the root of these two evils is none other 
247 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

than falsehood: which vice is deservedly hateful to God and to 
men, and more injurious to princes than any other; because they 
have greatest lack of that whereof they most need to have 
abundance — I mean of someone to tell them the truth and to put 
them in mind of what is right: for their enemies are not moved 
by love to perform these offices, but are well pleased to have 
them live wickedly and never correct themselves; on the other 
hand, their enemies dare not accuse them openly, for fear of being 
punished. Then of their friends there are few who have free 
access to them, and those few are chary of censuring them 
for their errours as freely as in the case of private persons, and 
to win grace and favour often think of nothing but how to 
suggest things that may delight and please their fancy, al- 
though the same be evil and dishonourable; thus from being 
friends these men become flatterers, and to derive profit from 
their intimacy, always speak and act complaisantly, and for the 
most part make their way by means of falsehoods, which beget 
ignorance in the prince's mind, not only of outward things but of 
himself; and this may be said to be the greatest and most 
monstrous falsehood of all, for the ignorant mind deceives itself 
and lies inwardly to itself, 

7-—" From this it follows that, besides never hearing the truth 
about anything whatever, rulers are intoxicated by that licence 
which dominion carries with it, and by the abundance of their 
enjoyments are drowned in pleasures, and so deceive themselves 
and have their minds so corrupted, — always finding themselves 
obeyed and almost adored with such reverence and praise, with- 
out the least censure or even contradiction, — that from this 
ignorance they pass to boundless self-esteem, so that they then 
brook no advice or persuasion from others. And since they 
think that to know how to rule is a very easy thing, and that to 
succeed therein they need no other art or training than mere 
force, they bend their mind and all their thoughts to the main- 
tenance of that power which they have, esteeming that true 
felicity lies in being able to do what one likes. 

" Therefore some princes hate reason and justice, thinking that 
it would be a kind of bridle and a means of reducing them to 
bondage, and of lessening the pleasure and satisfaction which 

248 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

they have in ruling, if they were willing to follow it; and that 
their dominion would not be perfect or complete if they were 
constrained to obey duty and honour, because they think that he 
who obeys is no true ruler. Therefore, following these principles 
and allowing themselves to be transported by self-esteem, they 
become arrogant, with haughty looks and stern behaviour, with 
splendid dress, gold and gems, and by letting themselves be 
almost 'never seen in public they think to win authority among 
men and to be held almost as gods. And to my thinking they 
are like the colossi that last year were made at Rome the day of 
the festival in the Piazza d'Agone,*'' which outwardly showed 
a likeness to great men and horses in a triumph, and within 
were full of tow and rags. But princes of this sort are much 
worse, in that the colossi keep upright merely by their great 
weight; while the princes, since they are ill balanced within and 
placed haphazard on uneven bases, fall to their ruin by reason 
of their own weight, and from one errour run into many; for 
their ignorance, together with the false belief that they can- 
not err and that the power which they have proceeds from their 
own wisdom, leads them to seize states boldly by fair means or 
foul, whenever they can. 

8 — " But if they were resolved to know and to do that which 
they ought, they would be as set on not ruling as they are set 
on ruling; for they would perceive how monstrous and per- 
nicious a thing it is when subjects, who are to be governed, are 
wiser than the princes who are to govern. 

" You see that ignorance of music, of dancing, of horseman- 
ship, is not harmful to any man; nevertheless, he who is no 
musician is ashamed and dares not sing in the presence of 
others, or dance if he knows not how, or ride if he has not a 
good seat. But from not knowing how to govern people there 
spring so many woes, deaths, destructions, burnings, ruins, — 
that it may be said to be the deadliest pest that is to be found on 
earth. And yet some princes who are very ignorant of govern- 
ment are not ashamed to undertake to govern, I will not say 
in the presence of four or of six men, but before all the world, for 
their rank is set so high that all eyes gaze on them, and hence 
not only their great but their least defects are always noted. 
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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Thus it is written that Cimon was accused of loving wine, Scipio 
of loving sleep, Lucullus of loving feasts.*" But would to God 
that the princes of our time might couple their sins with as 
many virtues as did those ancients; who, although they erred in 
some respects, yet did not avoid the reminders and advice 
of anyone who seemed to them competent to correct those 
errours, but rather sought with all solicitude to order their lives 
after the precepts of excellent men: as Epaminondas after that 
of Lysis the Pythagorean,**' Agesilaus after that of Xenophon, 
Scipio after that of Panaetius, and countless others.*"" 

" But if some of our princes were to happen upon a stern 
philosopher or any man who was willing openly and artlessly to 
show them the frightful face of true virtue, and to teach them 
what good behaviour is and what a good prince's life ought to 
be, I am certain that they would loathe him like an asp, or in 
sooth deride him as a thing most vile. 

9-—" I say, then, that since princes are to-day so corrupted by 
evil customs and by ignorance and mistaken self-esteem, and 
since it is so difficult to give them knowledge of the truth and 
lead them on to virtue, and since men seek to enter into their 
favour by lies and flatteries and such vicious means, — the Cour- 
tier, by the aid of those gentle qualities that Count Ludovico and 
messer Federico have given him, can with ease and should try 
to gain the good will and so charm the mind of his prince, that 
he shall win free and safe indulgence to speak of everything 
without being irksome. And if he be such as has been said, he 
will accomplish this with little trouble, and thus be able always 
to disclose the truth about all things with ease; and also to instil 
goodness into his prince's mind little by little, and to teach con- 
tinence, fortitude, justice, temperance, by giving a taste of how 
much sweetness is hidden by the little bitterness that at first 
sight appears to him who withstands vice; which is always 
hurtful and displeasing, and accompanied by infamy and blame, 
just as virtue is profitable, blithe and full of praise. And thereto 
he will be able to incite his prince by the example of the famous 
captains and other eminent men to whom the ancients were 
wont to make statues of bronze and of marble and sometimes of 
gold, and to erect the same in public places, both for the honour 

250 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of these men and as a stimulus to others, so that they might 
be led by worthy emulation to strive to reach that glory too. 

10.—" In this way the Courtier will be able to lead his prince 
along the thorny path of virtue, decking it as with shady leafage 
and strewing it with lovely flowers to relieve the tedium of the 
weary journey to one whose strength is slight; and now with 
music, now with arms and horses, now with verses, now with 
love talk, and with all those means whereof these gentlemen 
have told, to keep his mind continually busied with worthy 
pleasures, yet always impressing upon him also, as I have said, 
some virtuous practice along with these allurements, and play- 
ing upon him with salutary craft; like cunning doctors, who 
often anoint the edge of the cup with a sweet cordial, when they 
wish to give some bitter-tasting medicine to sick and over- 
delicate children. 

" If, therefore, the Courtier put the veil of pleasure to such 
a use, he will reach his aim in every time and place and exer- 
cise, and will deserve much greater praise and reward than for 
any other good work that he could do in the world. For there is 
no good thing that is of such universal advantage as a good 
prince, nor any evil so universally noxious as a bad prince: 
hence, too, there is no punishment so harsh and cruel as to be a 
sufficient penalty for those wicked courtiers who use their gentle 
and pleasant ways and fine accomplishments to a bad end, and 
therewith seek their prince's favour, in order to corrupt him and 
entice him from the path of virtue and lead him into vice; for 
such as these may be said to taint with deadly poison not a 
single cup from which one man alone must drink, but the public 
fountain used by all men," 

II.— My lord Ottaviano was silent, as if he did not wish to say 
more; but my lord Caspar said: 

" It does not seem to me, my lord Ottaviano, that this right- 
mindedness and continence, and the other virtues which you wish 
the Courtier to show his lord, can be learned; but I think that 
the men who have them are given them by nature and by God. 
And that this is true, you see that there is no man in the world 
so wicked and ill conditioned, or so intemperate and perverse, as 
to confess that he is so when he is asked; nay, everyone, how- 

251 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ever wicked he be, has pleasure in being deemed just, continent 
and good: which would not be the case if these virtues could be 
learned; for it is no disgrace not to know that to which one has 
given no study, but it seems a reproach indeed not to have that 
wherewith we ought to be adorned by nature. Hence everyone 
tries to hide his natural defects both of mind and of body too; 
which is seen in the blind, the halt and the crooked, and in 
others who are maimed or ugly; for although these imperfections 
may be ascribed to nature, still everyone dislikes to be sensible 
of them in himself, because he seems by nature's own testimony 
to have that defect as it were for a seal and token of his wicked- 
ness. 

" Moreover my opinion is confirmed by that story which is 
told of Epimetheus, who knew so ill how to distribute the gifts 
of nature among men that he left them much poorer in every- 
thing than all other creatures: wherefore Prometheus stole from 
Minerva and from Vulcan that artful cunning whereby men find 
the means of living;"' but still they did not have the civic cunning 
to gather together in cities and live orderly lives, for this was 
guarded in Jove's castle by very watchful warders, who so 
frightened Prometheus that he dared not approach them; where- 
fore Jove had compassion for the misery of men, who were torn 
by wild beasts because they could not stand together for lack of 
civic faculty, and sent Mercury to earth to bring them justice 
and shame, to the end that these two things might adorn their 
cities and unite the citizens. And he saw fit that they should 
not be given to men like the other arts, wherein one expert suf- 
fices for many ignorant (as in the case of medicine), but that 
they should be impressed upon each man; and he ordained a 
law that all who were without justice and shame should be ex- 
terminated and put to death like public pests. So you see, my 
lord Ottaviano, that these virtues are vouchsafed by God to men, 
and are not acquired, but natural," 

12 Then my lord Ottaviano said, smiling: 

" Do you then insist, my lord Gaspar, that men are so unhappy 
and perverse, that they have by industry discovered an art to 
tame the natures of wild beasts, bears, wolves, lions, and by it 
are able to teach a pretty bird to fly whither they like, and to 

25a 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

return willingly from its woods and natural freedom to cages 
and captivity, — and yet that they cannot or will not by the same 
industry find arts to help themselves and improve their minds 
with diligence and study ? To my thinking this would be as if 
physicians were to study with all diligence to acquire the mere 
art of healing sore nails and scurf in children, and were to leave 
off curing fevers, pleurisy and other serious maladies; and how 
out of all reason this would be, everyone can consider. 

" Therefore I think that the moral virtues are not in us by 
nature wholly, for nothing can ever become used to that which 
is naturally contrary to it; as we see in the case of a stone, 
which although it were thrown upwards ten thousand times 
would never become used to move thither of itself; hence if 
virtue were as natural to us as weight is to the stone, we should 
never become used to vice. Nor, on the other hand, are the vices 
natural in this sense, for we should never be able to be virtuous; 
and it would be too unfair and foolish to chastise men for those 
defects that proceed from nature without our fault; and this errour 
would be committed by the law, which does not inflict punish- 
ment upon malefactors on account of their past errour (since 
what is done can not be undone), but has regard to the future, to 
the end that he who has erred may err no more nor be the cause 
of others erring through his bad example. And thus the law 
presumes that the virtues can be learned, which is very true; 
for we are born capable of receiving them and the vices also, 
and hence custom creates in us the habit of both the one and the 
other, so that we first practise virtue or vice, and then are vir- 
tuous or vicious. 

" The contrary is observed in things that are bestowed by na- 
ture, which we first have the power to practise and then do 
practise: as is the case with the senses; for first we are able to 
see, hear and touch, then we see, hear and touch, although also 
many of these functions are perfected by training. 'Wherefore 
good masters teach children not only letters, but also good and 
seemly manners in eating, drinking, speaking and walking, with 
certain appropriate gestures. 

13.—" Therefore as in the other arts, so too in virtue it is neces- 
sary to have a master, who by instruction and good reminders 

253 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

shall arouse and awake in us those moral virtues whereof we 
have the seed enclosed and buried in our soul, and like a good 
husbandman shall cultivate them and open the way for them by 
freeing us from the thorns and tares of appetite, which often so 
overshadow and choke our minds as not to let them blossom or 
bring forth those happy fruits which alone we should desire to 
have spring up in the human heart. 

" In this sense, then, justice and shame, which you say Jove 
sent upon earth to all men, are natural in each one of us. But 
just as a body without eyes, however strong it be, often fails if it 
moves towards any object, so the root of these virtues potentially 
engendered in our minds often comes to naught if it be not 
helped by cultivation. For if it is to ripen into action and per- 
fect character, nature alone is not enough, as has been said, but 
there is need of studied practice and of reason, to purify and 
clear the soul by lifting the dark veil of ignorance, from which 
nearly all the errours of men proceed, — because if good and evil 
were well perceived and understood, everyone would always 
prefer good and shun evil. Thus virtue may almost be said to be 
a kind of prudence and wit to prefer the good, and vice a kind of 
imprudence and ignorance which lead us to judge falsely; for 
men never prefer evil deeming it to be evil, but are deceived by 
a certain likeness that it bears to good." 

I4-— Then my lord Caspar replied: 

" There are, however, many who know well that they are doing 
evil, and yet do it; and this because they have more thought for 
vhe present pleasure which they feel, than for the chastisement 
which they fear must come upon them: like thieves, homicides, 
and other such men." 

My lord Ottaviano said: 

" True pleasure is always good, and true suffering always evil; 
therefore these men deceive themselves in taking false pleasure 
for true, and true suffering for false; hence by false pleasures 
they often run into true sufferings. Therefore that art which 
teaches how to discern the true from the false, may well be 
learned; and the faculty whereby we choose that which is truly 
good and not that which falsely seems so, may be called true 
wisdom and more profitable to human life than any other, 

254 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

because it dispels the ignorance from which, as I have said, all 
evils spring." 

15.— Then messer Pietro Bembo said: 

" I do not know, my lord Ottaviano, whether my lord Gaspar 
ought to grant you that all evils spring from ignorance; and that 
there are not many who well know that they are sinning when 
they sin, and do not in the least deceive themselves as to true 
pleasure, nor yet as to true suffering. For it is certain that those 
who are incontinent judge reasonably and rightly, and know that 
to be evil to which they are prompted by their lusts in spite 
of duty, and therefore resist and set reason against appetite, 
whence arises a conflict of pleasure and pain against judgment. 
Conquered at last by too potent appetite, reason yields, like 
a ship which resists awhile the buffetings of the sea, but finally 
beaten by the too furious violence of the gale, with anchor and 
rigging broken, suffers herself to be driven at fortune's will, 
without use of helm or any guidance of compass to save her. 

" Therefore the incontinent commit their errours with a cer- 
tain doubtful remorse, and as it were in their own despite; which 
they would not do if they did not know that what they are doing 
is evil, but would follow appetite without restraint of reason and 
wholly uncontrolled, and would then be not incontinent but 
intemperate, which is much worse. Thus incontinence is said to 
be a diminished vice, because it has a grain of reason in it; and 
likewise continence is said to be an imperfect virtue, because it 
has a grain of passion in it. Therefore in this, methinks, we 
cannot say that the errours of the incontinent proceed from 
ignorance, or that they deceive themselves and that they do not 
sin, when they well know that they are sinning," 

16.— My lord Ottaviano replied: 

"In truth, messer Pietro, your argument is fine; yet to my 
thinking it is specious rather than sound, for although the incon- 
tinent sin hesitatingly, and reason struggles with appetite in 
their mind, and although that which is evil seems evil to them, — 
yet they have no perfect perception of it, nor do they know it so 
thoroughly as they need. Hence they have a vague idea rather 
than any certain knowledge of it, and thus allow their reason to 
be overcome by passion; but if they had true knowledge of it, 

255 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

doubtless they would not err: since the thing by which appetite 
conquers reason is always ignorance, and true knowledge can 
never be overcome by passion, which is derived from the body 
and not from the mind, and becomes virtue if rightly ruled and 
governed by reason; if not, it becomes vice. 

" But reason has such power that it always reduces the senses 
to submission and enters in by wonderful means and ways, pro- 
vided ignorance does not seize that which it ought to possess. 
So that although the spirits and nerves and bones have no 
reason in them, yet when a movement of the mind starts in us, 
as if thought were spurring and shaking the bridle on our 
spirits, all our members make ready, — the feet to run, the hands 
to take or to do that which the mind thinks; and moreover this 
is clearly seen in many who at times unwittingly eat some loath- 
some and disgusting food, which to their taste seems very 
delicious, and then learning what thing it was, not only suffer 
pain and distress of mind, but the body so follows the mental 
sense, that they must perforce cast up that food." 

I?-— My lord Ottaviano was continuing his discourse further, but 
the Magnifico Giuliano interrupted him and said: 

" If I heard aright, my lord Ottaviano, you said that continence 
is an imperfect virtue because it has a grain of passion in it; and 
when there is a struggle waging in our minds between reason and 
appetite, I think that the virtue which battles and gives reason the 
victory, ought to be esteemed more perfect than that which con- 
quers without opposition of lust or passion; for there the mind 
seems not to abstain from evil by force of virtue, but to refrain 
from doing evil because it has no inclination thereto." 

Then my lord Ottaviano said: 

" Which captain would you deem of greater worth, the one who 
fighting openly puts himself in danger and yet conquers the 
enemy, or the one who by his ability and skill deprives them of 
their strength, reducing them to such straits that they cannot 
fight, and thus conquers them without any battle or danger what- 
ever?" 

" The one," said the Magnifico Giuliano, " who more safely con- 
quers is without doubt more to be praised, provided this safe vic- 
tory of his do not proceed from the cowardice of the enemy." 

256 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" You have judged rightly; and hence I tell you that continence 
may be likened to a captain who fights manfully, and although 
the enemy be strong and powerful, still conquers them, albeit 
not without great difficulty and danger. While temperance 
unperturbed is like that captain who conquers and rules without 
opposition, and having not only abated but quite extinguished the 
fire of lust in the mind where she abides, like a good prince in 
time of civil strife, she destroys her seditious enemies within, and 
gives reason the sceptre and whole dominion. 

" Thus this virtue does not compel the mind, but infusing it by 
very gentle means with a vehement belief that inclines it to right- 
eousness, renders it calm and full of rest, in all things equal and 
well measured, and disposed on every side by a certain self-ac- 
cord which adorns it with a tranquillity so serene that it is never 
ruffled, and becomes in all things very obedient to reason and 
ready to turn its every act thereto and to follow wherever reason 
may wish to lead it, without the least unwillingness; like a tender 
lambkin, which always runs and stops and walks near its dam, 
and moves only with her. 

"This virtue, then, is very perfect and especially befitting to 
princes, because from it spring many others." 

i8.— Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" I do not know what virtues befitting to a lord can spring from 
this temperance, if it is the one which removes the passions from 
the mind, as you say. Perhaps this would be fitting in a monk or 
hermit; but I am by no means sure whether it would befit a prince 
(who was magnanimous, liberal and valiant in arms) never to feel, 
whatever might be done to him, either wrath or hate or good will 
or scorn or lust or passion of any kind, and whether he could 
without this wield authority over citizens or soldiers." 

My lord Ottaviano replied : 

" I did not say that temperance wholly removes and uproots the 
passions from the human mind, nor would it be well to do this, for 
even the passions contain some elements of good; but it reduces to 
the sway of reason thatwhich is perverse in ourpassions and recu- 
sant to right. Therefore it is not well to extirpate the passions 
altogether, in order to be rid of disturbance; for this would be 

257 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

like making an edict that no one must drink wine, in order to be 
rid of drunkenness, or forbidding everyone to run, because in run- 
ning we sometimes fall. You know that those who tame horses 
do not keep them from running and leaping, but would have them 
do so seasonably and in obedience to the rider. 

" Thus, when moderated by temperance, the passions are help- 
ful to virtue, like the wrath that aids strength, hatred of evil-doers 
aids justice, and likewise the other virtues are aided by the pas- 
sions; which, if they were wholly removed, would leave the reason 
very weak and languid, so that it could effect little, like the master 
of a vessel abandoned by the winds in a great calm, 

" Now do not marvel, messer Cesare, if I have said that many 
other virtues are born of temperance, for when a mind is attuned 
to this harmony, it then through the reason easily receives true 
strength, which makes it bold, and safe from every peril, and 
almost superior to human passions. Nor is this less true of jus- 
tice (unspotted virgin, friend of modesty and good, queen of all the 
other virtues), because she teaches us to do that which it is right to 
do, and to shun that which it is right to shun ; and therefore she 
is most perfect, because the other virtues perform their works 
through her, and because she is helpful to whomsoever possesses 
her, bothto himself and to others: without whom (as it is said) Jove 
himself could not rule his kingdom rightly. Magnanimity also fol- 
lows these and enhances them all; but she cannot stand alone, for 
whoever has no other virtue, cannot be magnanimous. Then the 
guide of these virtues is foresight, which consists in a certain 
judgment in choosing well. And in this happy chain are joined 
liberality, magnificence, thirst for honour, gentleness, pleasant- 
ness, affability and many others which there is not now time to 
name. 

" But if our Courtier will do that which we have said, he will 
find them all in his prince's mind, and will daily see spring there- 
from beautiful flowers and fruits, such as all the delightful gar- 
dens in the world do not contain; and he will feel within him 
very great content when he remembers that he gave his prince, 
not that which fools give (which is gold or silver, vases, raiment, 
and the like, whereof the giver has very great dearth, and the 
recipient very great abundance), but that faculty which of all 

258 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

things human is perhaps the greatest and rarest — that is, the 
manner and mode of ruling and reigning rightly: which would 
of itself alone suffice to make men happy and to bring back once 
more to earth that age of gold which is said to have been when 
Saturn reigned." 

19.— My lord Ottaviano having here made a little pause as if to 
rest, my lord Gaspar said: 

" Which do you think, my lord Ottaviano, the happier rule, 
and the more able to bring back to earth that age of gold which 
you have mentioned, — the rule of so good a prince, or the gov- 
ernment of a good republic?" 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

"I should always prefer the rule of a good prince, because 
such dominion is more accordant with nature, and (if it is allowed 
to compare small things with infinitely great) more like that of 
God, who governs the universe singly and alone. 

" But leaving this aside, you see that in those things that are 
wrought by human skill, — such as armies, great fleets, buildings 
and the like, — the whole is referred to one man who governs to 
his liking. So too in our body all the members labour and are 
employed at the command of the heart. Moreover it seems fit- 
ting that the people should be ruled by one prince, as is the case 
also with many animals, to whom nature teaches this obedience 
as a very salutary thing. You know that stags, cranes and many 
other birds, when on their flight, always set up a leader, whom 
they follow and obey; and the bees obey their king as it were by 
process of reason, and with as much reverence as the most 
obedient people on earth; and hence all this is very strong proof 
that the dominion of princes is more accordant with nature than 
that of republics." 

20.— Then messer Pietro Bembo said: 

•' Yet it seems to me that since liberty has been given us by 
God as a supreme gift, it is not reasonable that we should be de- 
prived of it, nor that one man should have a larger share of it 
than another: which happens under the dominion of princes, 
who for the most part hold their subjects in closest bondage. 
But in rightly ordered republics this liberty is fully preserved: 
besides which, both in judgments and in councils, it more often 

259 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

happens that one man's opinion singly is wrong, than that of 
many; because disturbance arising from anger or scorn or lust 
more easily enters the mind of one man than that of the many, 
who are almost like a great body of water, which is less liable 
to corruption than a small one. 

" I say, too, that the example of the animals does not seem to 
me apposite; for stags, cranes and the rest do not always set up 
the same one to follow and obey, but on the contrary change and 
vary, giving the dominion over them now to one, now to another, 
and thus come to be a kind of republic rather than a monarchy; 
and this may be called true and equal liberty, when those who 
command to-day in turn obey to-morrow. Neither does the ex- 
ample of the bees seem to me pertinent, for that king of theirs is 
not of their own species; and therefore whoever would give men 
a truly worthy lord, would need to find one of another species 
and of more excellent nature than that of men, if men must of 
reason obey him, like the herds which obey not an animal of 
their own kind but a herdsman, who is a man and of higher 
species than theirs. 

" For these reasons, my lord Ottaviano, I think the rule of a 
republic is more desirable than that of a king." 

21 — Then my lord Ottaviano said: 

" Against your opinion, messer Pietro, I wish to cite only one 
argument; which is, that of the modes of ruling people well, 
three kinds only are to be found: one is monarchy; another, the 
rule of the good, whom the ancients called optimates; the other, 
popular government. And the excess and opposite extreme, so 
to speak, wherein each one of the forms of rule falls to ruin and 
decay, is when monarchy becomes tyranny ; and when the rule 
of the optimates changes to government by a few powerful and 
bad men; and when popular government is seized by the rabble, 
which breaks down distinctions and commits the government 
of the whole to the caprice of the multitude. Of these three 
kinds of bad government, it is certain that tyranny is the worst 
of all, as could be proved by many arguments; then it follows 
that monarchy is the best of the three kinds of good government, 
because it is the opposite of the worst; for, as you know, the 
results of opposite causes are themselves opposite. 

260 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Now as to what you said about liberty, I reply that we ought 
not to say that true liberty is to live as we like, but to live ac- 
cording to good laws. Nor is it less natural and useful and 
necessary to obey than it is to command; and some things are 
born and thus appointed and ordained by nature to command, as 
certain others are to obey. True it is that there are two modes 
of ruling: the one (imperious and violent\like that of masters 
towards their slaves, and in this way the soul commands the 
body; the other more mild and gentle, like that of good princes 
by means of laws over their subjects, and in this way the reason 
commands the appetite: and both of these modes are useful, for 
the body is by nature created apt for obedience to the soul, and 
so is appetite for obedience to reason. Moreover there are 
many men whose actions have to do only with the use of the 
body; and such as these are as far from virtuous as the soul 
from the body, and although they are rational creatures, they 
have only such share of reason as to recognize it but not to 
possess or profit by it. These, therefore, are naturally slaves, and 
it is better and more profitable for them to obey than to com- 
mand." 

22.— Thereupon my lord Caspar said: 

" In what mode then are the discreet and virtuous, and those 
who are not by nature slaves, to be ruled? " 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" With that gentle rule, kingly and civic. And to such men it 
is well sometimes to give the charge of those offices for which 
they are fitted, to the end that they too may be able to command 
and govern those less wise than themselves, but in such manner 
that the chief rule shall wholly depend upon the supreme prince. 
And since you said that it is an easier thing for the mind of one 
man to be corrupted than for that of many, I say that it is also 
an easier thing to find one good and wise man than many. And 
to be good and wise ought to be deemed possible for a king 
of noble race, inclined to worthiness by his natural instinct and 
by the illustrious memory of his predecessors, and practised in 
good behaviour; and if he be not of another species more than 
human (as you said of the bee-king), being aided by the teachings 
and by the education and skill of so prudent and excellent a 
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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Courtier as these gentlemen have described, — he will be very 
just, continent, temperate, strong and wise, full of liberality, 
magnificence, religion and clemency. In short, he will be very 
glorious, and very dear to men and to God (by whose grace he will 
attain that heroic worth which will make him exceed the limits of 
humanity), and may be called a demigod rather than a mortal man. 

•' For God delights in and protects, not those princes who wish 
to imitate Him by displaying great power and making themselves 
adored of men, but those who, besides the power that makes 
them mighty, strive to make themselves like Him in goodness 
and wisdom, whereby they wish and are able to do good and to 
be His ministers, distributing for men's weal the benefits and 
gifts which they receive from Him. Thus, just as in heaven the 
sun and moon and other stars show the world as in a mirrour 
some likeness of God, so on earth a much liker image of God is 
found in those good princes who love and revere Him, and show 
their people the shining light of His justice and a reflection 
of His divine reason and mind; and with such as these God 
shares His righteousness, equity, justice and goodness, and those 
other happy blessings which I know not how to name, but which 
display to the world much clearer proof of divinity than the sun's 
light, or the continual revolving of the heavens and the various 
coursing of the stars. 

23-— " Accordingly men have been placed by God under the 
ward of princes, who for this reason ought to take diligent care 
of them, in order to render Him an account of them like good 
stewards to their lord, and ought to love them, and regard 
as personal to themselves every good and evil thing that hap- 
pens to them, and provide for their happiness above every other 
thing. Therefore the prince ought not only to be good, but also 
to make others good, like that square used by architects, which 
not only is straight and true itself, but also makes straight 
and true all things to which it is applied. And a very great 
proof that the prince is good is when his people are good, 
because the prince's life is law and preceptress to his subjects, 
and upon his behaviour all the others must needs depend; nor is 
it fitting for an ignorant man to teach, nor for an unordered man 
to give orders, nor for one who falls to raise up others. 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

'* Hence if the prince would perform these duties rightly, he 
must devote every study and diligence to wisdom; then he must 
set before himself and follow steadfastly in everything the law 
of reason (unwritten on paper or metal, but graven upon his own 
mind), to the end that it may be not only familiar to him, but in- 
grained in him, and abide with him as a part of himself; so that 
day and night, in every place and time, it may admonish him and 
speak inwardly to his heart, freeing him from those disturbances 
that are felt by intemperate minds, which — because they are 
oppressed on the one hand as it were by the very deep sleep of 
ignorance, and on the other by the travail which they suffer from 
their perverse and blind desires — are tossed by relentless fury, 
as a sleeper sometimes is by strange and dreadful visions. 

24.— "Moreover, by adding greater power to evil wish, greater 
harm is added also; and when the prince is able to do that which 
he wishes, then there is great danger that he will not wish that 
which he ought. Hence Bias well said that office shows what 
men are:"' for just as vases with some crack in them cannot 
easily be detected so long as they are empty, yet if liquid be 
poured in they at once show where the flaw is; — so corrupt and 
vicious minds seldom disclose their defects except when they are 
filled with authority; because then they do not suffice to bear the 
heavy weight of power, and hence run all lengths and scatter on 
every side the greeds, the pride, the bad temper, the insolence, 
and those tyrannical practices, which they have within them. 
Thus they recklessly persecute the good and wise and exalt the 
wicked, and in their cities they permit neither friendships nor 
unions nor understandings among their subjects, but maintain 
spies, informers and murderers, in order that they may frighten 
and make men cowardly, and sow discords to keep men disunited 
and weak. And from these ways there then ensue countless ruin 
and losses to the unhappy people, and often cruel death (or at 
least continual fear) to the tyrants themselves ; because good 
princes are not afraid for themselves, but for those whom they 
rule, while tyrants fear even those whom they rule; hence the 
greater the number of people they rule and the more powerful 
they are, so much the more do they fear and so many more 
enemies do they have. 
263 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" How frightened and of what uneasy mind do you think was 
Clearchus, tyrant of Pontus,"' every time he went into the market- 
place or theatre, or to a banquet or other public place? who, as 
it is written, was wont to sleep shut up in a chest. Or that other 
tyrant, Aristodemus the Argive?*" who made a kind of prison of 
his bed: for in his palace he had a little room hung in air, and 
so high that it could be reached only by a ladder; and here he 
slept with one of his women, whose mother took away the ladder 
at night and replaced it in the morning. 

" A wholly different life from this, then, ought that of the good 
prince to be, free and safe and as dear to his subjects as their 
very own, and so ordered as to partake both of the active and 
of the contemplative, as much as may comport with his people's 
weal." 

25-— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" And which of these two lives, my lord Ottaviano, seems to 
you more fitting for the prince?" 

My lord Ottaviano replied, laughing: 

"Perhaps you think I imagine myself to be that excellent 
Courtier who ought to know so many things and apply them to 
that good end which I have set forth; but remember that these 
gentlemen have described him with many accomplishments that 
are not in me. Therefore let us first take care to find him, for I 
leave to him both this and all things else that belong to a good 
prince." 

Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" I think that if any of the accomplishments ascribed to the 
Courtier are lacking in you, they are music and dancing and 
others of small importance, rather than those that belong to the 
moulding of the prince and to this end of Courtiership." 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

"None of those are of small importance that help to win the 
prince's favour, which is necessary (as we have said) before the 
Courtier risks trying to teach him virtue; which I think I have 
proved can be learned, and in which there is as much profit as 
there is loss in ignorance, whence spring all sins, and especially 
that false esteem which men cherish of themselves. But methinks 
I have said enough, and perhaps more than I promised." 

264 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

"We shall be the more beholden to your courtesy, the more 
your performance outstrips your promise; so do not weary of 
saying what occurs to you about my lord Caspar's question; and 
by your faith, tell us also everything that you would teach your 
prince if he had need of instruction, and imagine yourself to have 
won completely his favour, so that you are allowed to tell him 
freely what comes into your mind." 

26.— My lord Ottaviano laughed^ and said: 

" If I had the favour of a certain prince whom I know, and were 
to tell him freely what I think, I fear that I should soon lose it; 
moreover, to teach him, I myself should first need to learn. 

•' Yet since it pleases you to have me answer my lord Caspar 
further concerning this, I say that I think princes ought to lead 
both the two lives, but more especially the contemplative life, be- 
cause in their case this is divided into two parts : one of which con- 
sists in perceiving rightly and in judging ;. the other in command- 
ing (justly and in those ways that are fitting) things reasonable 
and those wherein they have authority, and in requiring the same 
of such men as have in reason to obey, and at appropriate times 
and places; and of this Duke Federico spoke when he said that 
whoever knows how to command is always obeyed. And as 
command is always the chief office of princes, they ought often 
to see with their own eyes and be present at the execution of 
their commands, and ought also sometimes to take part them- 
selves, according to the time and need; and all this partakes of, 
action: but the aim of the active life ought to be the contempla- \ 
tive, as peace is that of war, repose that of toil. _|_ 

27.—" Therefore it is also the good prince's office so to estab- 
lish his people, and under such laws and ordinances, that they 
may live at ease and peace, without danger and with dignity, and 
may worthily enjoy this end of their actions, which ought to be 
tranquillity. For many republics and princes are often found that 
have been very prosperous and great in war, and as soon as they 
have had peace they have gone to ruin and lost their greatness 
and splendour, like iron laid aside. And this has come about 
from nothing else but from their not having been well established 
for living at peace, and from their not knowing how to enjoy the 
265 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

blessing of ease. And to be always at war, without seeking to 
arrive at the end of peace, is not permitted: albeit some princes 
think that their chief aim ought to be to lord it over their neigh- 
bours; and therefore they train their people to a warlike ferocity 
for spoil, killing and the like, and give rewards to excite it, and 
call it virtue. 

" Thus it was once a custom among the Scythians that whoever 
had not slain an enemy might not drink from the bowl which 
was handed abput to the company at solemn feasts. In other 
places they used to set up, around a tomb, as many obelisks as he 
who was buried there had slain enemies; and all these things 
were done to make men warlike, solely in order to lord it over 
others: which was almost impossible, because the undertaking 
was endless (until the whole world should be subjugated) and far 
from reasonable according to the law of nature, which will not 
have us pleased with that in others which is displeasing to us in 
ourselves. 

"Therefore princes ought not to make their people warlike for 
lust of rule, but for the sake of being able to defend themselves 
and their people against him who would reduce them to bondage 
or do them wrong in any wise ; or to drive out tyrants and govern 
those people well who were ill used, or to reduce to bondage 
those who are by nature such as to deserve being made slaves, 
with the object of governing them well and giving them ease and 
rest and peace. To this end also the laws and all the ordinances 
of justice ought to be directed, by punishing the wicked, not from 
hatred, but in order that they may not be wicked and to the end 
that they may not disturb the tranquillity of the good. For in 
truth it is a monstrous thing and worthy of blame for men to show 
themselves valiant and wise in war (which is bad in itself) and in 
peace and quiet (which are good) to show themselves ignorant 
and of so little worth that they know not how to enjoy their hap- 
piness. 

"Hence, just as in war men ought to apply themselves to the 
qualities that are useful and necessary to attain its end, which 
is peace, — so in peace, to attain its end also, which is tranquillity, 
they ought to apply themselves to the righteous qualities that are 
the end of the useful. And thus subjects will be good, and the 

266 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

prince will have much more to praise and reward than to punish; 
and dominion will be very happy for the subjects and for the 
prince — not imperious, like that of master over slave, but sweet 
and gentle, like that of a good father over a good son." 

28 Then my lord Caspar said: 

" I should much like to know what these virtues are that are 
useful and necessary in war, and what ones are righteous in 
peace." 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" All virtues are good and helpful, because they tend to a good 
end; but of especial utility in war is that true courage which so 
frees the mind from the passions that it not only fears not dangers, 
but even pays no heed to them; likewise steadfastness, and that 
enduring patience, with a mind staunch and undisturbed by all 
the shocks of fortune. It is also fitting in war, and always, to have 
all the virtues that make for right, — like justice, continence, 
temperance; but much more in time of peace and ease, because 
men placed in prosperity and ease, when good fortune smiles upon 
them, often become unjust, intemperate, and allow themselves to 
be corrupted by pleasures: hence those who are in such case 
have very great need of these virtues, for ease too readily engen- 
ders evil behaviour in human minds. Therefore it was anciently 
said as a proverb, slaves should be given no ease; and it is be- 
lieved that the pyramids of Egypt were made to keep the people 
busy, because it is very good for everyone to be accustomed to 
bear toil. 

«' There are still many other virtues that are all helpful, but let 
it suffice for the present that I have spoken until now; for if I 
knew how to teach my prince and instruct him in this kind of 
worthy education such as we have planned, merely by so doing 
I should deem myself to have attained sufficiently well the aim 
of the good Courtier." 

29.— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

"My lord Ottaviano, since you have highly praised good edu- 
cation, and seemed almost to think that it is the chief means of 
making a man virtuous and good, I should like to know whether 
this instruction, which the Courtier must give his prince, ought 
to be begun with practice and with daily behaviour as it were, 
367 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

so as to accustom him to right doing without his perceiving it; or 
whether a beginning ought to be made by demonstrating to his 
reason the quality of good and evil, and by making him under- 
stand, before he sets out, which is the good way and the one to 
follow, and which is the bad way and the one to avoid: in short 
whether his mind ought to be first imbued and implanted with 
the virtues through the reason and intelligence or through 
practice." 

My lord Ottaviano said: 

"You start me upon too long a discourse; still, in order that 
you may not think I abstain from lack of will to answer your 
questions, I say that just as our mind and body are two things, 
so too the soul is divided into two parts, of which one has the 
reason in it, and the other has the appetite. Then, just as in 
generation the body precedes the soul, so the unreasoning part 
of the soul precedes the reasoning part: which is clearly per- 
ceived in children, in whom anger and lust are seen almost as 
soon as they are born, but with the lapse of time reason appears. 
Hence care must be taken of the body earlier than of the soul, 
, and of appetite earlier than of reason; but care of the body with 
a view to the soul, and of the appetite with a view to reason: for 
just as intellectual worth is perfected by instruction, so is moral 
worth perfected by practice. "We ought, therefore, first to teach 
through habit, which is able to govern the as yet unreasoning 
appetites and to direct them towards the good by means of that 
fair use; next we ought to establish them through the under- 
standing, which, although it shows its light more tardily, still 
furnishes a mode of making the virtues more perfectly fruitful to 
one whose mind is well trained by practice, — wherein, to my 
thinking, lies the whole matter." 

30.— My lord Gaspar said: 

"Before you go further, I should like to know what care ought 
to be taken of the body, since you said that we ought to take 
care of it earlier than of the soul." 

" As to that," replied my lord Ottaviano, laughing, " ask those 
who nourish their bodies well, and are plump and fresh; for 
mine, as you see, is not too well conditioned. Yet of this also it 
would be possible to say much, as of the proper time for mar- 

268 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

riage, to the end that the children may not be too near or too far 
from their father's age; of the exercises and education to be fol- 
lowed from birth and during the rest of life, in order to make 
them handsome, strong and sturdy." 

My lord Caspar replied: 

" That which would best please women for making their chil- 
dren handsome and beautiful, methinks would be that commu- 
nity wherein Plato in his Republic wishes them to be held, and 
after that manner." "' 

Then my lady Emilia said, laughing: 

•' It is not in the compact that you should fall to speaking ill 
of women again." 

" I think," replied my lord Caspar, " that I give them great 
praise in saying that they wish to bring in a custom approved 
by so great a man." 

Messer Cesare Gonzaga said, laughing: 

" Let us see whether this could have place among my lord 
Ottaviano's precepts (I do not know if he has rehearsed them 
all), and whether it were well for the prince to make it law." 

" The few that I have rehearsed," replied my lord Ottaviano, 
" might perhaps suffice to make a prince good, as princes go 
nowadays; although if one cared to look into the matter more 
minutely, he would still have much more to say." 

My lady Duchess added: 

" Since it costs us nothing but words, tell us on your faith 
everything that it would occur to your mind to teach your prince." 

3I-— My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" Many other things, my Lady, would I teach him, provided I 
knew them; and among others, that he should choose from his 
subjects a number of the noblest and wisest gentlemen, with 
whom he should consult on everything, and that he should give 
them authority and free leave to speak their mind to him about 
all things without ceremony; and that he should preserve such 
demeanour towards them, that they all might perceive that 
he wished to know the truth about everything and held all man- 
ner of falsehood in hatred. Besides this council of nobles, I 
should advise that there be chosen from the people other men of 
lower rank, of whom a popular council should be made, to com- 
269 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

municate with the council of nobles concerning the affairs of the 
city, both public and private. And in this way there would be 
made of the prince (as of the head) and of the nobles and com- 
monalty (as of the members) a single united body, the govern- 
ment of which would spring chiefly from the prince and yet 
include the others also; and this state would thus have the form 
of the three good kinds of government, which are Monarchy, 
Optimates, and People."* 

32.—" Next I should show him that of the cares which belong 
to the prince, the most important is that of justice; for the main- 
tenance of which wise and well-tried men ought to be chosen to 
office, whose foresight is true foresight accompanied by good- 
ness, for else it is not foresight, but cunning; and when this 
goodness is lacking, the pleaders' skill and subtlety always 
work nothing but ruin and destruction to law and justice, and 
the guilt of all their errours must be laid on him who put them 
in office. 

" I should tell how justice also fosters that piety towards God 
which is the duty of all men, and especially of princes, who 
ought to love Him above every other thing and direct all their 
actions to Him as to the true end; and as Xenophon said, to 
honour and love Him always, but much more when they are in 
prosperity, so that afterwards they may the more reasonably 
have confidence to ask Him for mercy when they are in some 
adversity."' For it is impossible to govern rightly either one's 
self or others without the help of God; who to the good some- 
times sends good fortune as His minister to relieve them from 
grievous perils; sometimes adverse fortune, to prevent their 
being so lulled by prosperity as to forget Him or human fore- 
sight, which often repairs evil fortune, as a good player repairs 
bad throws of the dice by placing his board well."* Moreover I 
should not cease reminding the prince to be truly religious — not 
superstitious or given to the vanities of incantation and sooth- 
saying; for by adding divine piety and true religion to human 
foresight, he would have good fortune too and a protecting God 
always to increase his prosperity in peace and in war. 

33-—" Next I should tell how he ought to love his land and 
people, not holding them too much in bondage, lest he make 

270 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

himself odious to them, from which thing there arise seditions, 
conspiracies and a thousand other evils; nor yet in too great 
freedom, lest he be despised, from which proceed licentious and 
dissolute life among his people, rapine, theft, murder, without 
any fear of the law; often the ruin and total destruction of city 
and realms. Next, how he ought to love those near him accord- 
ing to their degree, maintaining among all men an even equality 
in some things, as in justice and liberty; and in certain other 
things a judicious inequality, as in being generous, in rewarding, 
in distributing honours and dignities according to the inequality 
of their merits, which always ought not to exceed but to be 
exceeded by their rewards; and that in this way he would be not 
merely loved but almost adored by his subjects. Nor would 
there be need that he should turn to aliens for the safeguard 
of his life, because his own people for their very profit would 
guard it with their own, and all men would gladly obey the 
laws, when they found that he himself obeyed and was as it 
were the guardian and incorruptible minister of the same; and 
thus he would make so strong an impression in this matter, that 
even if he sometimes chanced to infringe the laws in some par- 
ticular, everyone would feel that it was done for a good end, and 
the same respect and reverence would be paid to his wish as to 
the law itself. "" 

" Thus the minds of his subjects would be so tempered that 
the good would not seek for more than they needed, and the bad 
could not; for excessive riches are oftentimes the cause of great 
ruin, as in poor Italy, which has been and still is exposed as 
a prey to foreign nations, both because of bad government and 
because of the great riches of which it is full. Hence it were 
well to have the greater part of the citizens neither very 
rich nor very poor, for the over-rich often become insolent and 
rash; the poar, base and dishonest; but men of moderate fortune 
do not lay snares for others, and live safe from being snared: 
and being the greater number, these men of moderate fortune 
are also more powerful; and therefore neither the poor nor 
the rich can conspire against the prince or other men, nor can 
they sow seditions; wherefore, in order to avoid this evil, it is 
a very wholesome thing to preserve a mean in all things. 
271 



^ 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

34 — " I should say then, that the prince ought to employ these and 
many other suitable precautions, so that there may not arise in 
his subjects' mind a desire for new things and for a change of gov- 
ernment; which they most often bring to pass either for gain or 
else for honour which they hope for, or because of loss or else of 
shame which they fear. And this unrest is engendered in their 
minds sometimes by hatred and anger driving them to despair, 
by reason of the wrongs and insults that have been wrought upon 
them through the avarice, insolence and cruelty or lust of their 
superiors; sometimes by the contempt that is aroused in them 
by the neglect and baseness and unworthiness of their princes. 
These two errours ought to be avoided by winning the people's 
love and obedience; as is done by benefiting and rewarding the 
good, and by prudently and sometimes severely precluding the 
bad and seditious from becoming powerful, which is much easier 
to prevent before they have become so than to deprive them of 
power after they have once acquired it. And I should say that 
to prevent a subject from running into these errours, there is no 
better way than to keep him from evil practices, and especially 
from those that spread little by little; for they are secret pests 
that infect cities before it is possible to cure or even to detect 
them. 

" By such means I should advise that the prince contrive to 
keep his subjects in a tranquil state, and to give them the bless- 
ings of mind and body and fortune; but those of the body and of 
fortune, in order to be able to exercise those of the mind, which 
are the more profitable the greater and more superabundant 
they are; which is not true of those of the body and of fortune. 
If, then, the subjects be good and worthy and rightly directed 
towards the goal of happiness, their prince is a very great lord; 
for that is a true and great dominion, under which the subjects 
are good and well governed and well commanded." 

35-— Then my lord Gaspar said: 

" I think that he would be a small lord under whom all the 
subjects were good, for in every place the good are few." 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" If some Circe were to change all the subjects of the King of 
France into wild beasts, would he not seem to you a small lord 

272 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

for all he ruled over so many thousand animals?"' And on the 
other hand, if only the flocks that roam our mountains here for 
pasture were to become wise men and worthy cavaliers, would 
you not think that those herdsmen who governed them and were 
obeyed by them, had become great lords instead of herdsmen? 
You see then, that it is not the number but the worth of their 
subjects that makes princes great." 

36.— My lady Duchess and my lady Emilia and all the others had 
been for a good space very attentive to my lord Ottaviano's dis- 
course; but since he now made a little pause, as if he had finished 
his discourse, messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" Verily, my lord Ottaviano, it cannot be said that your pre- 
cepts are not good and useful; nevertheless I should think that 
if you fashioned your prince after them, you would rather deserve 
the name of a good school-master than of a good Courtier, and 
he rather that of a good governor than of a great prince. I am 
far from saying that the care of lords should not be to have their 
people well ruled with justice and good uses; nevertheless me- 
thinks it is enough for them to select good ministers to dispose 
of such matters, and that their true office is much greater. 

" Therefore if I felt myself to be that excellent Courtier which 
these gentlemen have described, and to possess the favour of my 
prince, I certainly should not lead him into anything vicious; 
but, to pursue that good end which you tell of, and which I agree 
ought to be the fruit of the Courtier's toils and actions, I should 
seek to impress upon his mind a certain greatness, together with 
that regal splendour and readiness of mind and unconquered 
valour in war which should make him loved and revered by 
everyone to such a degree that he should be famous and illus- 
trious in the world chiefly for this. I should tell him also that he 
ought to accompany his greatness with a familiar gentleness, 
with that sweet and amiable humanity, and a fine manner of 
caressing both his subjects and strangers with discrimination, 
more or less according to their merits, — always preserving, how- 
ever, the majesty suited to his rank, so as not to allow his authority 
to abate one jot from over-condescension, nor on the other hand 
to excite hatred by too stern severity ; that he ought to be very 
generous and splendid, and to give to all men without reserve, 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

because God, as the saying runs, is the treasurer of generous 
princes; that he ought to give magnificent banquets, festivals, 
games, public shows; to have a great number of excellent horses 
(for use in war and for pleasure in time of peace), falcons, hounds, 
and all things else that pertain to the pleasures of great lords 
and of the people: as in our days we have seen done by my lord 
Francesco Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua, who in these matters 
seems rather King of Italy than lord of a city.*" 

" I should seek also to induce him to erect great buildings, both 
to win honour in his lifetime and to give a memorial of himself 
to posterity: as Duke Federico did in the case of this noble pal- 
ace,"' and as Pope Julius is now doing in the case of St. Peter's 
Church"' and of that street which leads from the Palace to his 
pleasure pavilion the Belvedere,"' and many other buildings: as 
also the ancient Romans did, whereof we see so many remains 
at Rome and at Naples, at Pozzuoli, at Baja, at Civita Vecchia, 
at Porto,'"* and out of Italy too, and many other places, — which 
are great proof of the worth of those divine minds."' So did 
Alexander the Great also, for not content with the fame that he 
had justly won by having conquered the world with arms, he 
built Alexandria in Egypt, Bucephalia in India,"' and other cities 
in other countries; and he thought of reducing Mount Athos to 
the form of a man, and of building a very spacious city in its left 
hand, and in its right a great basin in which were to be gathered 
all the rivers that take their rise there, and from it they were to 
flow over into the sea:'" a truly great thought and one worthy 
of Alexander the Great. 

" These, my lord Ottaviano, are things which I think befit a 
noble and true prince, and make him very glorious in peace and 
war; and not setting his mind to so many trifles, and taking care 
to fight solely in order to rule or conquer those who deserve to 
be ruled, or for his subjects' profit, or to deprive those of power 
who wield it ill. For if the Romans, Alexander, Hannibal and 
the others had had these aims, they would not have reached that 
height of glory to which they did attain." 

37-— Then my lord Ottaviano replied, laughing: 

" Those who had not these aims, would have done better if 
they had; although if you think, you will find many that did, and 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

particularly those first ancients, like Theseus and Hercules. 
And do not imagine that Procrustes and Sciron, Cacus, Diomed, 
Antaeus, Geryon, were other than cruel and impious tyrants, 
against whom these lofty-minded heroes waged perpetual and 
deadly war/"^ Therefore, for having delivered the world from 
such intolerable monsters (for only thus ought tyrants to be 
called), temples were raised and sacrifices offered to Hercules, 
and divine honours paid to him; since the extirpation of tyrants 
is a benefit so profitable to the world that he who confers it de- 
serves much greater reward than any befitting to a mortal.*"* 

"And of those whom you named, do you not think that by his 
victories Alexander did good to the peoples whom he conquered, 
having taught so many good customs to those barbarous tribes 
which he overcame, that out of wild beasts he made them men? 
He built so many fine cities in lands that were ill-inhabited, and 
introduced right living there, and as it were united Asia and 
Europe by the bond of friendship and holy laws, that those who 
were conquered by him were happier than the others. For to 
some he taught marriage, to others agriculture, to others religion, 
others he taught not to kill but to support their fathers when 
grown old, others to abstain from union with their mothers, and 
a thousand other things that could be told in proof of the benefit 
w^hich his victories conferred upon the world. 

38.—" But leaving the ancients aside, what more noble and glo- 
rious enterprise and more profitable could there be than for 
Christians to devote their power to subjugating the infidels?'* 
Do you not think that this war, if it succeeded prosperously and 
were the means of turning so many thousand men from the false 
sect of Mahomet to the light of Christian truth, would be as 
profitable to the vanquished as to the victors? And truly, as 
Themistocles once said to his family, being banished from his 
native land and received by the King of Persia and caressed and 
honoured with countless and very rich gifts: 'My friends, we 
should have been undone but for our undoing;"" so with reason 
might the Turks and Moors then say the same, because in their 
loss would lie their salvation. 

" Therefore I hope that we shall yet see this happiness, if God 
grant life enough for Monseigneur d'Angouleme to attain the 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

crown of France/"* who gives such promise of himself as my lord 
Magnifico told of four evenings since; and for my lord Henry, 
Prince of Wales/*' to attain that of England, who now is growing 
up under his great father in every sort of virtue,*" like a tender 
shoot under the shade of an excellent and fruit-laden tree, to 
renew it with much greater beauty and fruitfulness when the time 
shall be; for as our friend Castiglione writes thence,*" and prom- 
ises to tell more fully on his return, it seems that nature wished 
in this lord to show her power by gathering in a single body 
enough excellences to adorn a host." 

Then messer Bernardo Bibbiena said: 

" Very great promise is shown also by Don Carlos, Prince of 
Spain, who (although not yet arrived at the tenth year of his age) 
already shows so much capacity and such certain signs of good- 
ness, of foresight, of modesty, of magnanimity and of every 
virtue, that if the empire of Christendom shall be (as men think) 
in his hands, we may believe that he must eclipse the name of 
many ancient emperors, and equal the fame of the most famous 
that have been on earth."*"' 

39-— My lord Ottaviano added: 

" I think, then, that such divine princes as these have been 
sent by God on earth, and by Him made to resemble one another 
in youth, in martial power, in state, in beauty and bodily shape, 
to the end that they may be of one accord for this good purpose 
also. And if there must ever be any envy or emulation among 
them, it may be solely in wishing to be each the first and most 
fervent and zealous for so glorious an enterprise. 

" But let us leave this discourse and return to our subject. I 
say, then, messer Cesare, that the things which you wish the 
prince to do are very great and worthy of much praise; but you 
ought to understand that if he does not know that which I have 
said he ought to know, and has not formed his mind after that 
pattern and directed it to the path of virtue, he will hardly know 
how to be magnanimous, generous, just, courageous, foreseeing, 
or to possess any of those other qualities that are looked for 
in him. Nor yet would I have him such merely for the sake of 
being able to exercise these qualities: for just as those who 
build are not all good architects, so those who give are not 

276 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

all generous; because virtue never harms any man, and there 
are many who rob in order to give away, and thus are generous 
with the property of others; some give to those they ought not, 
and leave in misfortune and distress those to whom they are 
beholden; others give with a certain bad grace and almost spite, 
so that men see they do so on compulsion; others not only make 
no secret of it, but call witnesses and almost proclaim their 
generosities; others foolishly empty the fountain of their gen- 
erosity at a draught, so that it can be no more used again. 

40 — " Hence in this, as in other things, it is needful to know 
and to govern one's self with that foresight which is the neces- 
sary companion of all the virtues; which being midway are near 
the two extremes — that is, the vices; and thus he who does not 
know, easily runs into them. For just as it is difficult to find the 
central point in a circle, which is the mean, so is it difficult to 
find the point of virtue set midway between the two extremes 
(vicious, the one because of excess, the other because of de- 
ficiency); and to these we are inclined, sometimes to one and 
sometimes to the other. 'We perceive this in the pleasure or 
displeasure that we feel within us, for by reason of the one 
we do that which we ought not, and by reason of the other we 
fail to do that which we ought; but the pleasure is much the 
more dangerous, because our judgment allows itself to be easily 
corrupted by it. 

" But since it is a difficult thing to perceive how far a man 
is from the central point of virtue, we ought of our own accord 
to withdraw step by step in the direction opposite to the extreme 
towards which we perceive ourselves to be inclined, as those do 
who straighten crooked timbers; for in such wise we approxi- 
mate to virtue, which (as I have said) consists in that central 
point. Hence it happens that we err in many ways and perform 
our office and duty in only one way, just like archers, who 
hit the mark by one way only and miss the target by many. 
Thus, in his wish to be humane and affable, one prince often 
does countless things beneath his dignity, and so abases himself 
that he is despised; another, to preserve his grave majesty with 
becoming authority, becomes austere and intolerable; another, 
to be held eloquent, strays into a thousand strange fashions and 
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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

long mazes of affected words, listening to himself to such a 
degree that others cannot listen to him for weariness. 

4i-—" Therefore do not call anything a trifle, messer Cesare, 
that can improve a prince in any particular, however slight 
it be; nor must you suppose that I think you disparage my pre- 
cepts when you say that by them a good governor would be 
fashioned rather than a good prince; for perhaps no greater or 
more fitting praise can be given to a prince than to call him 
a good governor. Hence if it lay with me to instruct him, I 
would have him take care to heed not only the matters already 
mentioned, but those which are much smaller, and as far as pos- 
sible understand all details affecting his people, nor ever so 
believe or trust any one of his ministers as to confide to that one 
alone the bridle and control of all his government. For there is 
no man who is very apt for all things, and much greater harm 
arises from the credulity of lords than from their incredulity, 
which not only sometimes does no harm, but often is of the 
greatest advantage: albeit in this matter there is need of good 
judgment in the prince, to perceive who deserves to be believed 
and who does not. 

" I would have him take care to understand the acts and be 
the overseer of his ministers; to settle and shorten disputes 
among his subjects; to be the means of making peace among 
them, and of allying them in marriage; to have his city all united 
and agreed in friendship like a private family, populous, not poor, 
peaceful, full of good artificers; to favour merchants and even to 
aid them with money; to be generous and splendid in hospitality 
towards foreigners and ecclesiastics; to moderate all superflu- 
ities, for through the errours that are committed in these matters, 
small though they seem, cities often come to ruin. Wherefore it 
is reasonable that the prince should set a limit upon the too 
sumptuous houses of private folk, upon feasts, upon the excessive 
doweries of women, upon their luxury, upon their display in 
jewels and vesture, which is naught but a proof of their folly; 
for besides often wasting their husbands' goods and substance 
through the ambition and the envy which they bear one another, 
they sometimes sell their honour to anyone who will buy it, for 
the sake of a trinket or some other like trifle." 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

42.— Then messer Bernardo Bibbiena said, laughing: 

" My lord Ottaviano, you are taking sides with my lord Gaspar 
and Frisio." 

My lord Ottaviano replied, also laughing: 

" The dispute is finished, and I am far from wishing to renew 
it; so I shall say no more of women, but return to my prince." 

Frisio replied: 

" You can very well leave him now, and rest content that he 
should be such as you have described him. For without doubt 
it would be easier to find a lady with the qualities mentioned by 
my lord Magnifico, than a prince with the qualities mentioned 
by you; hence I fear that he is like Plato's Republic, and that we 
are never to see his equal, unless perhaps in Heaven." 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" Although they be difficult, things that are possible may still 
be hoped to come to pass. Therefore we shall in our times per- 
haps yet see him on earth; for although the heavens are so chary 
of producing excellent princes that hardly one is seen in many 
centuries, this good fortune may fall to us." 

Then Count Ludovico said: 

" I certainly trust that it may be so; for, besides those three 
great princes whom we have named, to whom w^e may look for 
that which has been said to befit the highest type of a perfect 
prince, — there are also to be found in Italy to-day several princes' 
sons, who, although they are not likely to have such great power, 
will perhaps fill its place with worth. And the one among them 
all who shows the best natural bent, and gives greater promise 
than any of the others, seems to me to be my lord Federico Gon- 
zaga, eldest son of the Marquess of Mantua and nephew to our 
lady Duchess here.*" For besides the gentleness of behaviour 
and the discretion which he shows at such a tender age, those 
who have charge of him tell wonderful things of his capacity, 
eagerness for honour, magnanimity, courtesy, generosity, love 
of justice; so that from so good a beginning we cannot but hope 
for the best of ends." 

Then Frisio said: 

" No more of this at present; we will pray God that we may 
see this hope of yours fulfilled." 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

43'— Here my lord Ottaviano, turning to my lady Duchess with 
an air of having finished his discourse, said: 

" There, my Lady, is what occurs to me to say about the aim 
of the Courtier; wherein, if I shall not have wholly given satis- 
faction, it will at least be enough for me to have shown that 
some further perfection could be given him in addition to the 
things mentioned by these gentlemen; who, methinks, omitted 
both this and all that I might say, not because they did not know 
it better than I, but in order to save themselves trouble; there- 
fore I will leave them to continue, if they have anything left to 
say." 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

"Not only is the hour so late that it will soon be time to stop 
for the evening, but it seems to me that we ought not to mingle 
any other discourse with this; wherein you have gathered so 
many different and beautiful things, that we may say (touching 
the aim of Courtiership) not only that you are the perfect Courtier 
whom we seek, and competent to instruct your prince rightly, 
but if fortune shall be favourable to you, that you ought also to 
be an admirable prince, which would be of great advantage to 
your country.""" 

My lord Ottaviano laughed, and said: 

" If I held such rank, my Lady, perhaps it would be with me as 
it is wont to be with many others, who know better how to speak 
than to act." 

44-— Here the matter having been debated back and forth awhile 
among the whole company, with some little contradiction albeit 
in praise of what had been said, and it being suggested that it 
was not yet time to go to rest, the Magnifico Giuliano said, 
laughing: 

** My Lady, I am so great an enemy to guile, that I am forced 
to contradict my. lord Ottaviano, who, from having (as I fear) 
conspired secretly with my lord Gaspar against women, has fallen 
into two errours to my thinking very grave : one of which is, that in 
order to set this Courtier above the Court Lady and make him 
transcend the bounds that she can reach, my lord Ottaviano has 
set the Courtier also above the prince, which is most unseemly; 
the other is in setting him such a goal that it is always difficult, 

280 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

and sometimes impossible for him to reach it, and that even when 
he does reach it, he ought not to be called a Courtier." 

♦' I do not understand," said my lady Emilia, " how it should be 
so difficult or impossible for the Courtier to reach this goal of his, 
nor yet how my lord Ottaviano has set him above the prince."'" 

" Do not grant him these things," replied my lord Ottaviano, 
*« for I have not set the Courtier above the prince, nor do I think 
I have fallen into any errour touching the aim of Courtiership." 

Then the Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

" You cannot say, my lord Ottaviano, that the cause which 
gives a certain quality to a result, does not always have more of 
that quality than its result has. Thus the Courtier, through 
whose instruction the prince is to become so excellent, must 
needs be more excellent than his prince; and in this way he will 
also be of greater dignity than the prince himself, which is most 
unseemly. 

•' Then, as for the aim of Courtiership, what you said may be 
true when the prince's age is little different from the Courtier's, 
but still not without difficulty, for where there is small difference 
in age, it is natural that there should be small difference in know- 
ledge also; while if the prince is old and the Courtier young, it is 
fitting that the old prince should know more than the young 
Courtier; and if this does not always happen, it happens some- 
times, and then the goal which you set the Courtier is impossible. 
Again, if the prince is young and the Courtier old, the Courtier 
can hardly win the prince's mind by means of those accomplish- 
ments that you have ascribed to him. For to say the truth, 
jousting and other exercises of the person belong to young men 
and do not befit old men, and music and dancing and festivals 
and games and love-making are ridiculous in old age; and me- 
thinks they would be very ill-befitting a director of the prince's 
life and behaviour, who ought to be a very sober person of 
authority, mature in years and experience, and (if possible) a 
good philosopher, a good commander, and ought to know almost 
everything. 

" Therefore I think that whoever instructs the prince ought 
not to be called a Courtier, but deserves a far higher and more 
honoured name. So pardon me, my lord Ottaviano, if I have ex- 
281 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

posed your fallacy; for methinks I am bound to do so for the 
honour of my Lady, whom you, forsooth, would have of less dig- 
nity than this Courtier of yours, and I will not allow it." 

45 — My lord Ottaviano laughed, and said: 

" My lord Magnifico, it would be more praise to the Court Lady 
to exalt her until she equalled the Courtier, than to abase the 
Courtier until he equalled the Court Lady; for it would be by no 
means forbidden the Lady to teach the mistress also, and with her 
to tend towards that aim of Courtiership which I said befits the 
Courtier with the prince. But you seek more to censure the 
Courtier than to praise the Court Lady; hence I too shall be 
allowed to take the Courtier's part. 

" To reply, then, to your objections, I declare I did not say that 
the Courtier's instruction ought to be the sole cause of making 
the prince such as we would have him. For if he were not by 
nature inclined and fitted to be so, all the Courtier's care and re- 
minders would be in vain: just as any good husbandman also 
would labour in vain if he were to set about cultivating barren 
sea-sand and sowing it with excellent seed, because such barren- 
ness is natural in that place; but when to good seed in fertile 
soil, and to mildness of climate and rains suited to the season, 
there is added also the diligence of human culture, very abundant 
crops are always found to spring up plenteously. Nor is it on 
that account true that the husbandman alone is the cause of this, 
although without him all the other things would avail little or 
nothing. Thus there are many princes who would be good if 
their minds were rightly cultivated; and it is of these that I am 
speaking, not of those who are like barren ground, and by nature 
so alien to good behaviour that no training avails to lead their 
minds in the straight path. 

46.—" And since, as we have already said, our habits are what 
our actions make them, and virtue consists in action, it is not 
impossible or marvellous that the Courtier should turn the prince 
to many virtues, like justice, generosity, magnanimity, the prac- 
tice whereof the prince by his greatness can easily put in use and 
convert into habit; which the Courtier cannot do, because he 
has not the means to practise them; and thus the prince, allured 
to virtue by the Courtier, may become more virtuous than the 

282 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Courtier. Moreover you must know that the whetstone, although 
it cuts nothing, yet makes iron sharp. Hence it seems to me 
that although the Courtier instructs the prince, he need not on 
that account be said to be of more dignity than the prince. 

" That the aim of this Courtiership is difficult and sometimes 
impossible, and that even when the Courtier attains it, he ought 
not to be called a Courtier, but deserves a greater name, — I say 
that I do not deny this difficulty, since it is not less difficult to 
find so excellent a Courtier than to attain such an end. Yet me- 
thinks there is no impossibility, even in the case that you cited: 
for if the Courtier is too young to know that which we have said 
he ought to know, we need not speak of him, since he is not the 
Courtier we are presupposing, nor is it possible that one who 
has to know so many things should be very young. 

" And if, indeed, the prince shall chance to be so wise and good 
by nature that he has no need of precepts and counsel from 
others (although everyone knows how difficult this is), it will be 
enough for the Courtier to be such a man as could make the 
prince virtuous if he had need of it. And then the Courtier will 
be at least able to perform the other part of his duty, — not to 
allow his prince to be deceived, always to make known the truth 
about everything, and to set himself against flatterers and slan- 
derers and all those who plot to debase his prince's mind with 
unworthy pleasures. And in this way he will also attain his 
end in great part, although he cannot put everything in practice: 
which will not be a reason for finding fault with him, since he 
refrains therefrom for so good a cause. For if an excellent phy- 
sician were to find himself in a place where everyone was in 
health, it would not for that reason be right to say that this phy- 
sician failed in his aim, although he healed no sick. Thus, just 
as the physician's aim ought to be men's health, so the Courtier's 
ought to be his prince's virtue; and it is enough for them both to 
have their aim latent within their power, if their failure to attain 
it openly in acts arises from the subject to which the aim is 
directed. 

" But if the Courtier were so old that it would not become him 
to practise music, festivals, games, arms, and the other personal 
accomplishments, still we cannot say that it is impossible for him 
283 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

to win his prince's favour by that road. For if his age prevents 
his practising those things, it does not prevent his understanding 
them, and if he has practised them in his youth, it does not pre- 
vent his having the more perfect judgment regarding them, and 
his knowing the more perfectly how to teach them to his prince, 
in proportion as years and experience bring more knowledge of 
everything. Thus, although the old Courtier does not practise 
the accomplishments ascribed to him, he will yet attain his aim 
of instructing his prince rightly. 

47-— "And if you are unwilling to call him Courtier, it does not 
trouble me; for nature has not set such limit upon human digni- 
ties that a man may not mount from one to another. Thus, com- 
mon soldiers often become captains; private persons, kings; and 
priests, popes; and pupils, masters; and thus, together with the 
dignity, they acquire the name also. Hence perhaps we might 
say that to become his prince's instructor was the Courtier's aim. 
However, I do not know who would refuse this name of perfect 
Courtier, which in my opinion is worthy of very great praise. 
And it seems to me that just as Homer described two most ex- 
cellent men as patterns of human life, — the one in deeds (which 
was Achilles), the other in sufferings and endurance (which was 
Ulysses), — so also he described a perfect Courtier (which was 
Phoenix), who, after narrating his loves and many other youthful 
affairs, says that he was sent to Achilles by the latter's father, 
Peleus, as a companion and to teach the youth how to speak and 
act: which is naught else but the aim which we have marked 
out for our Courtier.*"* 

" Nor do I think that Aristotle and Plato would have scorned 
the name of perfect Courtier, for we clearly see that they per- 
formed the works of Courtiership and wrought to this end, — the 
one with Alexander the Great, the other with the kings of Sicily. 
And since the office of a good Courtier is to know the prince's 
character and inclinations, and thus to enter tactfully into his 
favour according to need and opportunity, as we have said, by 
those ways that afford safe access, and then to lead him towards 
virtue, — Aristotle so well knew the character of Alexander, and 
tactfully fostered it so well, that he was loved and honoured 
more than a father by Alexander."' Thus, among many other 

284 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

tokens that Alexander gave him of good will, the king ordered 
the rebuilding of his native city, Stagira, which had been de- 
stroyed ;'"' and besides directing Alexander to that most glorious 
aim, — which was the desire to make the world as one single 
universal country, and all men as a single people to live in amity 
and mutual concord under a single government and a single law, 
which should shine equally on all like the light of the sun,*^ — 
Aristotle so instructed him in the natural sciences and in the 
virtues of the mind as to make him most wise, brave, continent, 
and a true moral philosopher, not only in words but in deeds; 
for a nobler philosophy cannot be imagined than to bring into 
civilized living such savage people as those who inhabited Bac- 
tria and Caucasia, India, Scythia;"" and to teach them marriage, 
agriculture, honour to their fathers, abstention from rapine, 
murder and other evil ways; to build so many very noble cities 
in distant lands; — so that countless men were by his laws reduced 
from savage life to civilization. And of these achievements of 
Alexander the author was Aristotle, using the means of a good 
Courtier: which Callisthenes knew not how^ to do, although 
Aristotle showed him;"' for in his wish to be a: pure philosopher 
and austere minister of naked truth, without mingling Courtier- 
ship therewith, he lost his life and brought not help but rather 
infamy to Alexander, 

" By these same means of Courtiership, Plato schooled Dio 
of Syracuse;*" and having afterwards found the tyrant Dionysius 
like a book all full of faults and errours and in need of complete 
erasure rather than of any change or correction (since it was not 
possible to remove from him that tinge of tyranny wherewith he 
had so long been stained), Plato was unwilling to practise the 
ways of Courtiership upon him, thinking that they all would 
surely be in vain. Which our Courtier also ought to do, if by 
chance he finds himself in the service of a prince of so evil a dis- 
position as to be inveterate in vice, like consumptives in their mal- 
ady; for in such case he ought to escape that bondage, in order 
not to receive blame for his lord's evil deeds, and in order not to 
feel that distress which all good men feel who serve the wicked." 

48.— Here my lord Ottaviano having ceased speaking, my lord 
Caspar said: 

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THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" I did not in the least suspect that our Courtier was so hon- 
oured; but since Aristotle and Plato are his fellows, I think that 
no one ought henceforth to scorn this name. Still I am far from 
sure whether I believe that Aristotle and Plato ever danced 
or made music in their lives, or performed any other acts of 
chivalry." 

My lord Ottaviano replied: 

" It is hardly permitted to think that these two divine spirits 
did not know everything, and hence we may believe that they 
practised what pertains to Courtiership, for on occasion they 
write of it in such fashion that the very masters of the subjects 
written of by them perceive that they understood the same to 
the marrow and deepest roots. Wherefore there is no ground 
for saying that all the accomplishments ascribed to him by these 
gentlemen do not befit a Courtier (or instructor of the prince, 
as you like to call him) who contributes to that good end which 
we have mentioned, even though he were a very stern philos- 
opher and most saintly in his behaviour, because they are 
not at variance with goodness, discretion, wisdom, worth, at 
every age and in every time and place." 

49-— Then my lord Caspar said: 

" I remember that in discussing the accomplishments of the 
Courtier last evening, these gentlemen desired that he should be 
in love; and since, by reviewing what has thus far been said, we 
might conclude that a Courtier who has to allure his prince to 
virtue by his worth and authority, must almost of necessity be 
old (because knowledge very rarely comes before years, and 
especially in those things that are learned by experience), — I do 
not know how becoming it is for him (being advanced in age) to 
be in love. For as has been said this evening, love does not sit 
well upon old men, and those things which in young men are 
delights, courtesies and elegances very pleasing to women, in 
old men are extravagances and ridiculous incongruities, and for 
him who practises them win hatred from women and derision 
from others. 

" So if your friend Aristotle, the old Courtier, were in love, and 
did those things which young lovers do, like some whom we 
have seen in our days, — I fear he would forget to instruct his 

286 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

prince, and perhaps children would mock at him behind his 
back, and women would get little pleasure from him except to 
deride him." 

Then my lord Ottaviano said: 

"As all the other accomplishments ascribed to the Courtier 
befit him although he be old, methinks we ought by no means to 
deprive him of this enjoyment of loving." 

" Nay," said my lord Gaspar, " to deprive him of love is to give 
him an added perfection, and to make him live at ease remote 
from misery and calamity." — ,.^ 

50 — Messer Pietro Bembo said:^ 

" Do you not remember, my lord Gaspar, that although he is 
little skilled in love, yet in his game the other evening my lord 
Ottaviano seemed to know that there are some lovers who call 
sweet the scorns and ires and warrings and torments which they 
have from their ladies ; whence he asked to be taught the cause 
of this sweetness? Therefore if our Courtier, although old, were 
inflamed with those loves that are sweet without bitterness, he 
would feel_ no calamity or misery in them ; and if he were wise, as 
we suppose him to be, he would not deceive himself by thinking 
that all was befitting to him which befits young men; but if he 
loved, perhaps he would love in a way that would bring him not 
only no blame, but much praise and highest happiness unaccom- 
panied by any pain, which rarely and almost never happens with 
young men; and thus he would not fail to instruct his prince, nor 
would he do aught to deserve the mockery of children." 

Then my lady Duchess said: 

" I am glad, messer Pietro, that you have had little fatigue in 
our discussion this evening, for now we shall with more assurance 
impose on you the burden of speaking, and of teaching the Cour- 
tier this love which is so happy that it brings with it neither blame 
nor discomfort; for perhaps it will be one of the most important 
and useful attributes that have thus far been ascribed to him: 
therefore tell us, on your faith, all you know about it." 

Messer Pietro laughed, and said: 

" I should be sorry, my Lady, that my saying it is permissible 
for old men to love should be a reason for these ladies to regard 
me as old; therefore please to give this task to someone else."'" 
287 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

My lady Duchess replied: 

" You ought not to shun being reputed old in wisdom, even if 
you are young in years; so speak on, and make no more excuse." 

Messer Pietro said: 

*' Indeed, my Lady, if I must talk about this matter, I sh ould 
need to go take counsel with my Lavinello's Hermit.'"" 

Then my lady Emilia said, half vexed: 

" Messer Pietro, there is no one in the company who is mociL- 
disobedient than you; therefore it will be well for my lady Duch- 
ess to inflict some chastise ment upon y ou,." 

Messer Pietro said, again smiling_^> 

" Be not angry with me, my Lady, for love of God; for I will 
tell what you wish." 

" Then tell it at once," replied my lady Emilia. 

51 — Whereupon messer Pietro, having first remained silent 
awhile, then settled himself a little as if about to speak of some- 
thing important, and spoke thus:*" 

" My Lords, in order to prove that old men can love not only 
without blame but sometimes more happily than young men, it 
will be needful for me to make a little discourse to explain what 
love is, and in what consists the happiness that lovers may enjoy. 
So i pray you hear me with attention, for I hope to make you see 
that there is no man here whom it does not become to be in love, 
even though he were fifteen or twenty years older than my lord 
Morello." 

And then after some laughter, messer Pietro continued: 

" I say, then, that according to the definition of the ancient sages 
love is^iaught but a certain desire to enjoy beauty; and as de- 
sire longs only for things that are perceived, perception must 
needs always precede desire, which by its nature wishes good 
things^ but in itself is blind and does not perceive them. There- 
fore nature has so ordained that to every faculty of perception 
there is joined a certain faculty of appetite; and since in our soul 
there are three modes of perceiving, that is, by sense, by reason, 
and by intellect: from sense springs appetite, which we have in 
common with the brutes ; from reason springs choice, which is 
peculiar to man; from the intellect, by which man is able to com- 
mune with the angels, springs will. Thus, just as sense perceives 

288 






^;€gP*^fe 



■ '-^ 




A-^S./' ,-^R; 




PIETRO BEMBO 
1470-1547 

Much enlarged from a photographic print of a medal in the King's Library, British 
Museum. This is probably the medal for which Benvenuto Cellini (1500- 1573), in his 
autobiography, describes making a sketch from life in 1537. See j£mile Molinier's 
monograph on Cellini in the series, Les Artistes Celibres, published at Paris by the 
JjibrairU de I' Art, p. 33 ; and Armand's Let Midailleurs Italiens, i, ijo. 



oaw'i 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

only things that are perceptible by the senses, appetite desires 
the same only; and just as intellect is directed solely to the con- 
templation of things intellectual, the will feeds only upon spiritual 
benefits. Being by nature rational and placed as a mean between 
these two extremes, man can at pleasure (by descending to sense 
or mounting to intellect) turn his desires now in the one direc- 
tion and now in the other. In these two ways, therefore, it is 
possible to desire beauty, which universal name applies to all/ 
things (whether natural or artificial) that are framed in good 
proportion and due measure according to their nature. 

52.—" But speaking of the beauty we have in mind, which is only 
that which is seen in the bodies and especially in the faces of 
men, and which excites this ardent desire that we call love, — we 
will say that it is an effluence of divine goodness, and that al- 
though it is diffused like the sun's light upon all created things, 
yet when it finds a face well proportioned and framed with a 
certain pleasant harmony of various colours embellished by 
lights and shadows and by an orderly distance and limit of out- 
lines, it infuses itself therein and appears most beautiful, and 
adorns and illumines that object whereon it shines with grace and 
wonderful splendour, like a sunbeam falling upon a beautiful vase 
of polished gold set with precious gems. Thus it agreeably at- 
tracts the eyes of men, and entering thereby, it impresses itself 
upon the soul, and stirs and delights her with a new sweetness 
throughout, and by kindling her it excites in her a desire for its 
own self. . ^ 



" Then, being seized with desire to enjoy this beauty as some- 
thing good, if the soul allows herself to be guided by the 
judgment of sense, she runs into very grievous errours, and 
judges that the body wherein the beauty is seen is the chief 
cause thereof; and hence, in order to enjoy that beauty, she 
deems it necessary to join herself as closely to that body as she 
can; which is false: and accordingly, whoever thinks to enjoy 
the beauty by possessing the body deceives himself, and is 
moved, not by true perception through reasonable choice, but by 
false opinion through sensual appetite: wherefore the pleasure 
also that results therefrom is necessarily false and vicious. 

" Hence all those lovers who satisfy their unchaste desires 
289 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

with the women whom they love, run into one of two errours: 
for as soon as they have attained the end desired, they either not 
only feel satiety and- tedium, but hate the beloved object as 
if appetite repented its errour and perceived the deceit practised 
upon it by the false judgment of sense, which made it believe 
evil to be good; or else they remain in the same desire and long- 
ing, like those who have not truly attained the end they sought. 
And although, by reason of the blind opinion wherewith they are 
intoxicated, they think they feel pleasure at the moment, as the 
sick sometimes dream of drinking at some clear spring, never- 
theless they are not contented or appeased. And since the pos- 
session of a wished-for joy always brings quiet and satisfaction 
to the mind of the possessor, if that joy were the true and worthy 
object of their desire, they would remain quiet and satisfied 
in possessing it; which they do not. Nay, deceived by that 
likeness, they soon return to unbridled desire, and with the same 
distress they felt at first, they find themselves furiously and very 
ardently athirst for that which they vainly hope to possess per- 
fectly. 

"Such lovers as these, therefore, love most unhappily; for 
either they never attain their desires (which is great unhappi- 
ness), or if they do attain thereto, they find they have attained 
their woe, and finish their miseries with other miseries still 
greater; because even in the beginning and midst of their love 
naught else is ever felt but anguish, torments, sorrows, suffer- 
ings, toils. So that to be pale, melancholy, in continual tears 
and sighs, to be sad, to be ever silent or lamenting, to long for 
death, in short, to be most unhappy, are the conditions that 
are said to befit lovers. 

53 — " The cause, then, of this havoc in the minds of men is 
chiefly sense, which is very potent in youth, because the vigour 
of flesh and blood at that period gives to it as much strength as 
it takes away from reason, and hence easily leads the soul 
to follow appetite. For, finding herself plunged into an earthly 
prison and deprived of spiritual contemplation by being set the 
task of governing the body, the soul cannot of herself clearly 
comprehend the truth; wherefore, in order to have perception 
of things, she must needs go begging first notions from the 

2go 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

senses, and so she believes them and bows before them and 
allows herself to be guided by them, especially when they have 
so much vigour that they almost force her; and as they are 
fallacious, they fill her with errours and false opinions. 

" Hence it nearly always happens that young men are wrapped 
in this love which is sensual and wholly rebellious to reason, 
and thus they become unworthy to enjoy the graces and benefits 
which love bestows upon its true subjects; nor do they feel any 
pleasures in love beyond those which the unreasoning animals 
feel, but anguish far more grievous. 

"This premise being admitted then, — and it is most true, — 
I say that the contrary happens to those who are of maturer 
age. For if such as these (when the soul is already less 
weighed down by bodily heaviness and when the natural heat 
begins to become tepid) are inflamed by beauty and turn thereto 
a desire guided by rational choice, — they are not deceived, and 
possess beauty perfectly. Therefore their possession of it al- 
ways brings them good; because beauty is good, and hence true 
love of beauty is most good and holy, and always works for 
good in the mind of those who restrain the perversity of sense 
with the bridle of reason; which the old can do much more 
easily than the young. 

54-—" Hence it is not beyond reason to say further that the old 
can love without blame and more happily than the young; 
taking this word old, however, not in the sense of decrepit, nor 
when the bodily organs have already become so weak that the 
soul cannot perform its functions through them, but when our 
knowledge is at its true prime. 

" I will not refrain from saying also this: which is, that I think 
that although sensual love is evil at every age, yet in the young 
it deserves excuse, and is perhaps in a measure permitted. For 
although it gives them anguish, dangers, toils, and those woes 
that have been told, still there are many who, to win the favour 
of the ladies of their love, do worthy acts, which (although not 
directed to a good end) are intrinsically good; and thus from 
that mass of bitterness they extract a little sweet, and through 
the adversities which they endure they at last perceive their 
errour. Hence, just as I deem those youths divine who control 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

their appetites and love in reason, so I excuse those who allow 
themselves to be overcome by sensual love, to which they are so 
strongly inclined by human frailty: provided they show therein 
gentleness, courtesy and worth, and the other noble qualities of 
which these gentlemen have told; and provided that when they 
are no longer of youthful age, they abandon it altogether, shun- 
ning this sensual desire as it were the lowest round of the ladder 
by which true love can be attained. But if, even after they are 
old, they preserve the fire of appetite in their chill heart and sub- 
ject stout reason to frail sense, it is not possible to say how much 
they are to be blamed. For like fools they deserve to be num- 
bered with perpetual infamy among the unreasoning animals, 
since the thoughts and ways of sensual love are too unbecoming 
to mature age." 

55 — Here Bembo paused a little, as if to rest; and as everyone 
remained silent, my lord Morello da Ortona said: 

"And if an old man were found more vigourous and sturdy 
and of better looks than many youths, why would you not have 
him allowed to love with that love wherewith young men love? " 

My lady Duchess laughed, and said: 

*' If young men's love is so unhappy, my lord Morello, why do 
you wish to have old men love thus unhappily also? But if you 
were old, as these gentlemen say, you would not thus contrive 
evil for old men." 

My lord Morello replied: 

" Methinks it is messer Pietro Bembo who is contriving evil 
for old men, in that he wishes to have them love in a certain w^ay 
which I for my part do not understand; and methinks that to 
possess this beauty which he so highly praises, without the body, 
is a dream." 

Then Count Ludovico said: 

" Do you believe, my lord Morello, that beauty is always as 
good as messer Pietro Bembo says? " 

"Not I indeed," replied my lord Morello; "nay, I remember 
having seen many beautiful women who were very bad, cruel 
and spiteful; and this seems to be almost always so, for beauty 
makes them proud, and pride makes them cruel." 

Count Ludovico said, laughing: 

292 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" To you, perhaps, they seem cruel because they do not grant 
you what you would have; but have yourself taught by messer 
Pietro Bembo in what way old men ought to desire beauty, and 
what they ought to seek from women, and with what they ought 
to be content; and if you do not exceed these limits, you shall 
see that they will not be either proud or cruel, and will grant 
you what you wish." 

Then my lord Morello seemed a little vexed, and said: 

"I have no wish to know what does not concern me; but do 
you have yourself taught how this beauty ought to be desired by 
young men who are less vigourous and sturdy than their elders." 

56-— Here messer Federico, to quiet my lord Morello and turn 
the conversation, did not allow Count Ludovico to reply, but 
interrupted him and said: 

" Perhaps my lord Morello is not altogether wrong in saying 
that beauty is not always good; for women's beauty is often the 
cause that brings upon the world countless evils, hatreds, wars, 
deaths and destructions; of which good proof can be found in 
the fall of Troy. And beautiful women are for the most part 
either proud or cruel, or (as has been said) immodest; but this 
would not seem to my lord Morello a fault. There are also 
many wicked men who have the gift of fair looks, and it seems 
that nature made them thus to the end that they should be better 
fitted to deceive, and that this gracious seeming is like the bait 
upon the hook." 

Then messer Pietro Bembo said: 

" Do not believe that beauty is not always good." 

Here Count Ludovico, in order to return to the original sub- 
ject, interrupted and said: 

" Since my lord Morello does not care to know what so deeply 
concerns him, teach it to me, and show me how old men attain 
this happiness in love, for I shall not mind having myself thought 
old, provided it help me." 

57.— Messer Pietro laughed, and said: 

" I wish first to free these gentlemen's minds from their errour; 
then I will satisfy you too." Resuming thus, he said: 

" My Lords, I would not have any of us, like profane and sac- 
rilegious men, incur God's wrath by speaking ill of beauty, which 

293 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

is a sacred thing. Therefore, to the end that my lord Morello 
and messer Federico may be warned, and not lose their sight, like 
Stesichorus (which is a very fitting punishment for one who scorns 
beauty),"" I say that beauty springs from God, and is like a circle 
of which goodness is the centre. And hence, as there can be no 
circle without a centre, there can be no beauty without goodness. 
Thus a wicked soul rarely inhabits a beautiful body, and for that 
reason outward beauty is a true sign of inward goodness. And 
this grace is impressed upon bodies, more or less, as an index of 
the soul, whereby she is known outwardly, as in the case of 
trees, in which the beauty of the blossom gives token of the ex- 
cellence of the fruit. The same is true in the case of human 
bodies, as we see that the Physiognomists often recognize in the 
face the character and sometimes the thoughts of men; and what 
is more, in beasts also we discern from the aspect the quality of 
the mind, which is expressed as much as possible in the body. 
Think how clearly we read anger, ferocity and pride in the face 
of the lion, the horse, the eagle; a pure and simple innocence in 
lambs and doves; cunning malice in foxes and wolves, and so of 
nearly all other animals. 

58.—" The ugly are therefore for the most part wicked too, and 
the beautiful are good: and we may say that beauty is the pleas- 
ant, gay, acceptable and desirable face of good, and that ugli- 
ness is the dark, disagreeable, unpleasant and sad face of evil. 
And if you will consider all things, you will find that those which 
are good and useful always have a charm of beauty also, 

" Look at the state of this great fabric of the world, which w^as 
made by God for the health and preservation of every created 
thing. The round firmament, adorned with so many heavenly 
lights, and the earth in the centre, surrounded by the elements 
and sustained by its own weight; the sun, which in its revolving 
illumines the whole, and in winter approaches the lowest sign, 
then little by little mounts to the other side; the moon, which 
derives her light from it, according as it approaches her or 
withdraws from her; and the five other stars, which separately 
travel the same course.*'' These things have such influence 
upon one another through the linking of an order thus precisely 
framed, that if they were changed for an instant, they could not 

294 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

hold together, and would wreck the world; they have also such 
beauty and grace that human wit cannot imagine anything more 
beautiful. 

" Think now of the shape of man, which may be called a little 
world; wherein we see every part of the body precisely com- 
posed with skill, and not by chance; and then the whole form 
together so beautiful that we could hardly decide whether more 
utility or more grace is given to the human features and the rest 
of the body by all the members, such as the eyes, nose, mouth, 
ears, arms, breast, and other parts withal. The same can be said 
of all the animals. Look at the feathers of birds, the leaves and 
branches of trees, which are given them by nature to preserve 
their being, and yet have also very great loveliness. 

" Leave nature, and come to art. What thing is so necessary 
in ships as the prow, the sides, the yards, the masts, the sails, the 
helm, the oars, the anchors and the cordage ? Yet all these things 
have so much comeliness, that it seems to him who looks upon 
them that they are thus devised as much for beauty as for use. 
Columns and architraves support lofty galleries and palaces, yet 
they are not on that account less pleasing to the eyes of him who 
looks upon them, than useful to the buildings. When men first 
began to build, they set that middle ridge in their temples and 
houses, not in order that the buildings might have more grace, 
but to the end that the water might flow off conveniently on 
either side; yet to utility soon was added comeliness, so that if a 
temple were built under a sky where no hail or rain falls, it would 
not seem able to have any dignity or beauty without the ridge. 

59-—" Much praise is therefore bestowed, not only upon other 
things, but upon the world, by saying that it is beautiful. We 
praise when we say: 'Beautiful sky, beautiful earth, beautiful 
sea, beautiful rivers, beautiful lands, beautiful woods, trees, gar- 
dens; beautiful cities, beautiful churches, houses, armies.' In 
short, this gracious and sacred beauty gives highest ornament to 
everything; and we may say that the good and the beautiful are 
in a way one and the same thing, and especially in the human 
body ; of whose beauty I think the most immediate cause is beauty 
of the soul, which (as partaker of true divine beauty) brightens 
and beautifies whatever it touches, and especially if the body 
295 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

wherein it dwells is not of such base material that it cannot im- 
press thereon its quality. Therefore beauty is the true trophy of 
the soul's victory, when with power divine she holds sway over 
material nature, and by her light overcomes the darkness of the 
body. 

" Hence we must not say that beauty makes women proud 
or cruel, although it may seem so to my lord Morello; nor 
yet ought we to ascribe to beautiful women those enmities, 
deaths and destructions of which the immoderate appetites of 
men are the cause. I do not by any means deny that it is pos- 
sible to find beautiful women in the world who are also im- 
modest, but it is not at all because their beauty inclines them to 
immodesty; nay, it turns them therefrom and leads them to the 
path of virtuous behaviour, by the connection that beauty has 
with goodness. But sometimes evil training, the continual 
urgence of their lovers, gifts, poverty, hope, deceits, fear and a 
thousand other causes, overcome the steadfastness even of 
beautiful and good women; and through these or similar causes 
beautiful men also may become wicked." 

60.— Then messer Cesare said: 

" If that is true which my lord Caspar alleged yesterday, there 
is no doubt that beautiful women are more chaste than ugly 
women." 

•' And what did I allege? " said my lord Caspar. 

Messer Cesare replied: 

*' If I remember rightly, you said that women who are wooed 
always refuse to satisfy him who wooes them, and that those who 
are not wooed woo others. Certain it is that the beautiful are 
always more wooed and besought in love than are the ugly; 
therefore the beautiful always refuse, and hence are more chaste 
than the ugly, who, not being wooed, woo others." 

Bembo laughed, and said: 

" To this argument no answer can be made." Then he added: 
" It often happens also that our sight deceives us like our other 
senses, and accounts a face beautiful which in truth is not 
beautiful; and since in some women's eyes and whole aspect a 
certain wantonness is seen depicted, together with unseemly 
blandishments, — many (who like such manner because it prom- 

. 296 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ises them ease in attaining what they desire) call it beauty: but 
in truth it is disguised immodesty, unworthy a name so honoured 
and so sacred." 

Messer Pietro Bembo was silent, and those gentlemen still 
urged him to speak further of this love and of the mode of enjoy- 
ing beauty truly; and he at last said: 

" Methinks I have shown clearly enough that old men can love 
more happily than young, which was my thesis; therefore it 
does not become me to go further." 

Count Ludovico replied: 

" You have better shown the unhappiness of youths than the 
happiness of old men, whom as yet you have not taught what 
road to follow in this love of theirs, but have only told them to 
be guided by reason; and by many it is thought impossible for 
love to abide with reason." 

6i — Bembo still sought to put an end to his discourse, but my 
lady Duchess begged him to speak; and he began anew thus: 

" Too unhappy would human nature be, if our soul (wherein 
such ardent desire can spring up easily) were forced to feed it 
solely upon that which is common to her with the beasts, and 
could not direct it to that other nobler part which is peculiar to 
herself. Therefore, since so indeed it pleases you, I have no 
wish to avoid discoursing upon this noble subject. And as I feel 
myself unworthy to speak of Love's most sacred mysteries, I pray 
him so to inspire my thought and tongue that I may be able to 
show this excellent Courtier how to love beyond the manner of 
the vulgar crowd; and since from boyhood up I have dedicated 
my whole life to him, so now also may my words comport with 
this intent and with his praise. 

" I say, then, that as in youth human nature is so greatly prone 
to sense, the Courtier may be allowed to love sensually while he 
is young. But if afterwards in maturer years he chances still to 
be kindled with this amourous desire, he must be very wary and 
take care not to deceive himself by allowing himself to be led 
into those calamities which in the young merit more compassion 
than blame, and, on the contrary, in the old more blame than 
compassion. 

62.—" Therefore when the gracious aspect of some fair woman 
297 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

meets his view, accompanied with such sweet behaviour and 
gentle manners that he, as an adept in love, feels that his spirit 
accords with hers: as soon as he finds that his eyes lay hold 
upon her image and carry it to his heart; and that his soul 
begins to contemplate her with pleasure and to feel that influence 
within which stirs and warms it little by little; and that those 
quick spirits which shine out through the eyes continually add 
fresh 'tinder to the fire; — he ought at this first stage to provide a 
speedy cure, and arouse his reason, and therewith arm the 
fortress of his heart, and so shut the way to sense and appetite 
that they cannot enter there by force or trickery. Thus, if the 
flame is extinguished, the danger is extinguished also; but if it 
survives or grows, then the Courtier, feeling himself caught, 
must resolve on shunning wholly every stain of vulgar love, and 
thus enter on the path of divine love, with reason for guide. And 
first he must consider that the body wherein this beauty shines 
is not the fountain whence it springs, but rather that beauty 
(being an incorporeal thing and, as we have said, a heavenly 
beam) loses much of its dignity when it finds itself joined to vile 
and corruptible matter; for the more perfect it is the less it par- 
takes thereof, and is most perfect when wholly separate there- 
! from. And he must consider that just as one cannot hear with 
the palate or smell with the ears, so too can beauty in no wise 
be enjoyed, nor can the desire which it excites in our minds 
be satisfied, by means of touch, but by that sense of which this 
beauty is the very object, namely, the power of vision. 

" Therefore let him shun the blind judgment of sense, and with 
his eyes enjoy the splendour of his lady, her grace, her amourous 
sparkle, the laughs, the ways and all the other pleasant orna- 
ments of her beauty. Likewise with his hearing let him enjoy 
the sweetness of her voice, the concord of her words, the har- 
mony of her music (if his beloved be a musician). Thus will he 
feed his soul on sweetest food by means of these two senses — 
which have little of the corporeal and are ministers of reason — 
without passing in his desire for the body to any appetite less 
than seemly. 

" Next let him obey, please and honour his lady with all rev- 
erence, and hold her dearer than himself, and prefer her conve- 

298 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

nience and pleasures to his own, and love in her not less the 
beauty of mind than that of body. Therefore let him take care 
not to leave her to fall into any kind of errour, but by admonition 
and good advice let him always seek to lead her on to modesty, 
to temperance, to true chastity, and see to it that no thoughts 
find place in her except those that are pure and free from every 
stain of vice; and by thus sowing virtue in the garden of her fair 
mind, he will gather fruits of fairest behaviour too, and will taste 
them with wonderful delight. And this will be the true engen- 
dering and manifesting of beauty in beauty, which by some is 
said to be the end of love. 

" In such fashion will our Courtier be most acceptable to his 
lady, and she will always show herself obedient, sweet and affable 
to him, and as desirous of pleasing him as of being loved by him; 
and the wishes of both will be most virtuous and harmonious, 
and they themselves will thus be very happy." 

63 — Here my lord Morello said: 

" To engender beauty in beauty, forsooth, would be to beget a 
beautiful child in a beautiful woman; and pleasing him in this 
would seem to me a much clearer token that she loved her lover 
than treating him with the affability of which you speak." 

Bembo laughed, and said: 

" You must not go beyond bounds, my lord Morello; nor does 
a woman give small token of her love when she gives her lover 
her beauty, which is so precious a thing, and by the ways that 
are the avenues to her soul (that is, sight and hearing) sends the 
glances of her eyes, the image of her face, her voice, her words, 
which strike home to the lover's heart and give him proof of her 
love." 

My lord Morello said: 

" Glances and words may be, and often are, false proofs; there- 
fore he who has no better pledge of love is, in my judgment, far 
from sure; and truly I quite expected you to make this lady of 
yours a little more courteous and generous to the Courtier than 
my lord Magnifico made his; but methinks that both of you are 
in like case with those judges who pronounce sentence against 
their friends for the sake of appearing wise." 

64 — Bembo said: 
299 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" I am very willing that this lady should be much more cour- 
teous to my unyouthful Courtier, than my lord Magnifico's is to 
the youthful Courtier; and with reason, for my Courtier will 
desire only seemly things, and therefore the lady can grant him 
all of them without blame; while my lord Magnifico's lady, who 
is not so sure of the youthful Courtier's modesty, ought to grant 
him only seemly things, and to refuse him the unseemly. Hence 
my Courtier, to whom is granted what he asks, is more happy 
than the other, to whom part is granted and part refused. 

"And to the end that you may still better understand that 
rational love is happier than sensual, I say that the same things 
ought sometimes to be refused in sensual love and granted in 
rational love, because they are unseemly in the one and seemly 
in the other. Thus, to please her worthy lover, besides granting 
him pleasant smiles, familiar and secret discourse, and leave to 
joke and jest with her and to touch her hand, the lady may in 
reason even go so far as kissing without blame, which is not 
permitted in sensual love according to my lord Magnifico's rules. 
For since the kiss is the union of body and soul, there is danger 
lest the sensual lover incline more in the direction of the body 
than in that of the soul; while the rational lover perceives that 
although the mouth is part of the body, yet it gives issue to 
words, which are interpreters of the soul, and to that inward 
breath which is itself even called soul. Hence a man delights 
to join his mouth to that of his beloved in a kiss, not in order to 
arouse any unseemly desire in him, but because he feels that 
bond to be the opening of a passage between their souls, which, 
being each drawn by desire for the other, pour themselves each 
into the other's body by turn, and so commingle that each has 
two souls, and a single soul (thus composed of these two) rules 
as it were over two bodies. Hence the kiss may be oftener said 
to be a joining of soul than of body, because it has such power 
over the soul that it draws her to itself and separates her from 
the body. On this account all chaste lovers desire to kiss as a 
joining of the soul; and thus the divinely enamoured Plato says 
that in kissing the soul came to his lips to escape his body. And 
since the separation of the soul from things material, and its 
complete union with things spiritual, may be denoted by the kiss, 

300 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Solomon, in his divine book of the Song, says: ' Let him kiss me 
with the kiss of his mouth,' to express desire that his soul might 
be so transported with divine love to the contemplation of celes- 
tial beauty, that by joining closely therewith she might forsake 
the body." 

65 — Everyone gave closest heed toBembo's discourse; and he, 
having made a little pause and seeing that no one else spoke, 
said: 

•' As you have made me begin to teach our unyouthful Courtier 
happy love, I fain would lead him a little farther; for it is very 
dangerous to stop at this stage, seeing that the soul is very prone 
to the senses, as has many times been said; and although reason 
and argument choose well and perceive that beauty does not 
spring from the body, and although they therefore put a bridle 
upon unseemly desires, still, always contemplating beauty in the 
body often perverts sound judgment. And even if no other evil 
flowed therefrom, absence from the beloved object brings much 
suffering with it, because the influence of her beauty gives the 
lover wonderful delight when she is present, and by warming his 
heart wakens and melts certain dormant and frozen forces in his 
soul, which (being nourished by the warmth of love) spread and 
blossom about his heart, and send forth through the eyes those 
spirits that are very subtle vapours made of the purest and 
brightest part of the blood, which receive the image of her 
beauty and fashion it with a thousand various ornaments. Hence 
the soul delights, and trembles with awe and yet rejoices, and as 
in a stupour feels not only pleasure, but that fear and reverence 
which we are wont to have for sacred things, and speaks of being 
in paradise. ' 

66.— "Therefore the lover who considers beauty in the body 
only, loses this blessing and felicity as soon as his beloved lady 
by her absence leaves his eyes without their splendour, and his 
soul consequently widowed of its blessing. Because, her beauty 
being far away, that amourous influence does not warm his heart 
as it did in her presence; wherefore his pores become arid and 
dry, and still the memory of her beauty stirs a little those forces 
of his soul, so that they seek to scatter abroad the spirits; and 
these, finding the ways shut, have no exit, and yet seek to issue 
301 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

forth; and thus hemmed in by those goads, they sting the soul and 
give it keenest suffering, as in the case of children when the teeth 
begin to come through the tender gums. And from this proceed 
the tears, the sighs, the anguish and the torments of lovers, be- 
cause the soul is ever in affliction and travail, and becomes almost 
raging until her dear beauty appears to it again ; and then it sud- 
denly is calmed and breathes, and all intent upon that beauty it 
feeds on sweetest food, nor would ever part from so delightful a 
spectacle. 

" Hence, to escape the torment of this absence and to enjoy 
beauty without suffering, there is need that the Courtier should, 
with the aid of reason, wholly turn his desire from the body to the 
beauty alone, and contemplate it in itself simple and pure, as far 
as he can, and fashion it in his imagination apart from all matter; 
and thus make it lovely and dear to his soul, and enjoy it there, 
and have it with him day and night, in every time and place, with- 
out fear of ever losing it; bearing always in mind that the body 
is something very different from beauty, and not only does not 
enhance it, but diminishes its perfection. 

" In this wise will our unyouthful Courtier be beyond all the 
bitterness and calamities that the young nearly always feel: such 
as jealousies, suspicions, disdainings, angers, despairings, and 
certain furies full of madness ■ whereby they are often led into 
such errour that some of them not only beat the women whom 
they love, but deprive themselves of life. He will do no injury 
to the husband, father, brothers or kinsfolk of his beloved lady; 
he will put no infamy upon her; he will never be forced to bridle 
his eyes and tongue with such difficulty in order not to disclose 
his desires to others, orto endure suffering atpartings or absences; 
— because he will always carry his precious treasure with him 
shut up in his heart, and also by force of his imagination he will 
inwardly fashion her beauty much more beautiful than in fact it 
is. 

67.—" But besides these blessings the lover will find another 
much greater still, if he will employ this love as a step to mount 
to one much higher; which he will succeed in doing if he con- 
tinually considers within himself how narrow a restraint it is to 
be always occupied in contemplating the beauty of one body 

302 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

only; and therefore, in order to escape such close bounds as 
these, in his thought he will little by little add so many orna- 
ments, that by heaping all beauties together he will form an 
universal concept, and will reduce the multitude of these beauties 
to the unity of that single beauty which is spread over human 
nature at large. In this way he will no longer contemplate 
the particular beauty of one woman, but that universal beauty 
which adorns all bodies; and thus, bewildered by this greater 
light, he will not heed the lesser, and glowing with a purer flame, 
he will esteem lightly that which at first he so greatly prized. 

" This stage of love, although it be very noble and such as few 
attain, still cannot be called perfect; for since the imagination is 
merely a corporeal faculty and has no perception except through 
those means that are furnished it by the senses, it is not wholly 
purged of material darkness; and hence, although it considers 
this universal beauty in the abstract and intrinsically, yet it does 
not discern that beauty very clearly or without some ambiguity, 
because of the likeness which phantoms bear to substance. 
Thus those who attain this love are like tender birds beginning 
to put on feathers, which, although with their frail wings they 
lift themselves a little in flight, yet dare not go far from their 
nest or trust themselves to the winds and open sky. 

68.—" Therefore when our Courtier shall have reached this 
goal, although he may be called a very happy lover by compari- 
son with those who are plunged in the misery of sensual love, 
still I would have him not rest content, but press boldly on 
following along the lofty path after the guide who leads him to 
the goal of true felicity. And thus, instead of going outside 
himself in thought (as all must needs do who choose to contem- 
plate bodily beauty only), let him have recourse to himself, in 
order to contemplate that beauty which is seen by the eyes 
of the mind, which begin to be sharp and clear when those 
of the body lose the flower of their loveliness. Then the soul, — 
freed from vice, purged by studies of true philosophy, versed in 
spiritual life, and practised in matters of the intellect, devoted to 
the contemplation of her own substance, — as if awakened from 
deepest sleep, opens those eyes which all possess but few use, 
and sees in herself a ray of that light which is the true image of 

303 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the angelic beauty communicated to her, and of which she then 
communicates a faint shadow to the body. Grown blind to 
things earthly, the soul thus becomes very keen-sighted to things 
heavenly; and sometimes, when the motive forces of the body 
are absorbed by earnest contemplation or fettered by sleep, 
being unhampered by them, she is conscious of a certain far-off 
perfume of true angelic beauty, and ravished by the splendour 
of that light, she begins to kindle and pursues it so eagerly that 
she almost becomes phrensied with desire to unite herself to that 
beauty, thinking that she has found God's footstep, in the con- 
templation of which she seeks to rest as in her beatific end. And 
thus, glowing in this most happy flame, she rises to her noblest 
part, which is the intellect; and here, no longer darkened by the 
gloomy night of things earthly, she sees the divine beauty; but 
still she does not yet quite enjoy it perfectly, because she con- 
templates it in her own particular intellect only; which cannot 
be capable of the vast universal beauty. 

" Wherefore, not well content with this boon, love gives the 
soul a greater felicity; for just as from the particular beauty of 
one body it guides her to the universal beauty of all bodies, so in 
the highest stage of perfection it guides her from the particular 
to the universal intellect. Hence the soul, kindled by the most 
sacred fire of true divine love, flies to unite herself with the 
angelic nature, and not only quite forsakes sense, but has 
no longer need of reason's discourse; for, changed into an angel, 
she understands all things intelligible, and without veil or cloud 
views the wide sea of pure divine beauty, and receives it into 
herself, and enjoys that supreme felicity of which the senses are 
incapable. 

69 — " If, then, the beauties which with these dim eyes of ours we 
daily see in corruptible bodies (but which are naught but dreams 
and faintest shadows of beauty) seem to us so fair and gracious 
that they often kindle most ardent fire in us, and of such delight 
that we deem no felicity able to equal that which we sometimes 
feel at a single glance coming to us from a woman's beloved 
eyes, — what happy wonder, what blessed awe, shall we think is 
that which fills the souls that attain to the vision of divine 
beauty! What sweet flame, what delightful burning, must that 

304 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

be thought which springs from the fountain of supreme and 
true beauty! — which is the source of every other beauty, which 
never waxes nor wanes: ever fair, and of its own self most 
simple in every part alike; like only to itself, and partaking 
of none other; but fair in such wise that all other fair things are 
fair because they derive their beauty from it. 

" This is that beauty identical with highest good, which by its 
light calls and attracts all things to itself, and not only gives in- 
tellect to the intellectual, reason to the rational, sense and desire 
for life to the sensual, but to plants also and to stones communi- 
cates motion and that natural instinct of their quality, as an 
imprint of itself. 

" Therefore this love is as much greater and happier than the 
others, as the cause that moves it is more excellent; and hence, 
just as material fire refines gold, so does this most sacred fire in 
our souls destroy and consume that which is mortal there, and 
quickens and beautifies that celestial part which at first, by reason 
of the senses, was dead and buried in them. This is the Pyre 
whereon the poets write that Hercules was burned on the crest 
of Mount CEta, and by such burning became divine and immortal 
after death.*" This is the Burning Bush of Moses, the Cloven 
Tongues of fire, the Fiery Chariot of Elias,*" which doubles grace 
and felicity in the souls of those who are worthy to behold it, 
when they leave this earthly baseness and take flight towards 
heaven. 

" Let us, then, direct all the thoughts and forces of our soul to 
this most sacred light, which shows us the way that leads to 
heaven; and following after it, let us lay aside the passions 
wherewith we were clothed at our fall, and by the stairway that 
bears the shadow of sensual beauty on its lowest step, let us 
mount to the lofty mansion where dwells the heavenly, lovely 
and true beauty, which lies hidden in the inmost secret recesses 
of God, so that profane eyes cannot behold it. Here we shall 
find a most happy end to our desires, true rest from our toil, cer- 
tain cure for our miseries, most wholesome medicine for our 
diseases, safest refuge from the boisterous storms of this life's 
tempestuous sea. 

•JO.—" What mortal tongue, then, O most holy Love, can praise 

305 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

thee worthily? Most fair, most good, most wise, thou springest 
from the union of beauty and goodness and divine wisdom, and 
abidest in that union, and by that union returnest to that union 
as in a circle. Sweetest bond of the universe, joining things 
celestial to things terrestrial, thou with benignant sway inclinest 
the supernal powers to rule the lower powers, and turning the 
minds of mortals to their origin, joinest them thereto. Thou 
unitestthe elements in concord, movest nature to produce — and 
that which is born, to the perpetuation of life. Thou unitest 
things that are separate, givest perfection to the imperfect, like- 
ness to the unlike, friendship to the unfriendly, fruit to the earth, 
tranquillity to the sea, vital light to the heavens. 

" Thou art father of true pleasure, of grace, of peace, of gentle- 
ness and good will, enemy to rustic savagery and sloth — in short, 
the beginning and the end of every good. And since thou de- 
lightest to inhabit the flower of beautiful bodies and beautiful 
souls, and thence sometimes to display thyself a little to the eyes 
and minds of those who are worthy to behold thee, methinks 
that now thy abode is here among us, 

" Deign, then, O Lord, to hear our prayers, pour thyself upon 
our hearts, and with the splendour of thy most holy fire illumine 
our darkness and, like a trusted guide, in this blind labyrinth show 
us the true path. Correct the falseness of our senses, and after 
our long pursuit of vanities give us true and solid good ; make us 
to inhale those spiritual odours that quicken the powers of the 
intellect, and to hear the celestial harmony with such accord that 
there may no longer be room in us for any discord of passion; fill 
us at that inexhaustible fountain of content which ever delights 
and never satiates, and gives a taste of true beatitude to all who 
drink of its living and limpid waters; with the beams of thy light 
purge our eyes of misty ignorance, to the end that they may no 
longer prize mortal beauty, and may know that the things which 
first they seemed to see, are not, and that those which they saw 
not, really are. 

"Accept our souls, which are offered thee in sacrifice; burn 
them in that living flame which consumes all mortal dross, to the 
end that, being wholly separated from the body, they may unite 
with divine beauty by a perpetual and very sweet bond, and that 

306 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

we, being severed from ourselves, may, like true lovers, be able to 
transform ourselves into the beloved, and rising above the earth 
may be admitted to the angels' feast, where, fed on ambrosia and 
immortal nectar, we may at last die a most happy and living 
death, as died of old those ancient fathers whose souls thou, by 
the most glowing power of contemplation, didst ravish from the 
body and unite with God." 

7I-— Having thus far spoken, with such vehemence that he al- 
most seemed transported and beside himself, Bembo remained 
silent and motionless, keeping his eyes towards heaven, as if 
wrapped in ecstasy; when my lady Emilia, who with the others 
had been listening most attentively to his discourse, took him by 
the border of his robe, and shaking him a little, said :**" 

" Have a care, messer Pietro, that with these thoughts your soul, 
also, does not forsake your body." 

" My Lady," replied messer Pietro, " that would not be the first 
miracle that love has wrought upon me." 

Then my lady Duchess and all the others again began urging 
Bembo to continue his discourse: and everyone seemed almost to 
feel in his mind a spark of that divine love which inspired the 
speaker, and all desired to hear more; but Bembo added: 

" My Lords, I have said that which love's sacred phrensy dic- 
tated to me at the moment; now that it seems to inspire me no 
further, I should not know what to say: and I think love is not 
willing that its secrets should be further disclosed, or that the 
Courtier should pass beyond that stage which it has been pleased 
to have me show him; and therefore perhaps it is not permitted 
to speak more of this matter." 

72.—" Verily," said my lady Duchess, " if the unyouthful Courtier 
should prove able to follow the path that you have shown him, 
he ought in all reason to content himself with such great feli- 
city, and to have no envy of the youthful Courtier." 

Then messer Cesare Gonzaga said: 

" The road which leads to this felicity seems to me so steep that 
I believe it is very hard to travel." 

My lord Gaspar added: 

" I believe it is hard for men to travel, but impossible for 
women." 

307 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

My lady Emilia laughed, and said: 

" My lord Gaspar, if you return to wronging us so often, I 
promise you that you will not be pardoned again." 

My lord Gaspar replied: 

" No wrong is done you by saying that women's souls are not 
so purged of passion as those of men, nor given to contemplation, 
as messer Pietro said those must be who would taste divine love. 
Thus we do not read that any woman has had this grace, but 
that many men have had it, like Plato, Socrates and Plotinus,*" 
and many others; and so many of our holy Fathers, like St. 
Francis, upon whom an ardent spirit of love impressed the most 
holy seal of the five wounds :'"' nor could aught but the power of 
love lift St. Paul to the vision of those mysteries whereof man 
is not allowed to speak;*" nor show St. Stephen the opened 
heavens."*^ 

Here the Magnifico Giuliano replied: 

"In this, women will by no means be outdone by men; for 
Socrates himself confesses that all the mysteries of love which 
he knew were revealed to him by a woman, who was the famous 
Diotima;*" and the angel who wounded St, Francis with the 
fire of love, has also made several women of our age worthy of 
the same seal. You must remember, too, that St. Mary Mag- 
dalen had many sins forgiven her because she loved much,'*" and 
perhaps with no less grace than St. Paul was she many times 
lifted to the third heaven by angelic love; and so many others, 
who (as I narrated yesterday more at large) for the love of 
Christ's name took no heed of life, nor were afraid of torments or 
any manner of death however horrible and cruel it might be; 
and they were not old, as messer Pietro would have our Courtier, 
but tender and delicate girls, and of that age wherein he says 
that sensual love ought to be allowed in men." 

73.— My lord Gaspar began making ready to reply, but my 
lady Duchess said: 

" Of this let messer Pietro Bembo be the judge, and let us 
abide by his decision whether or not women are as capable 
of divine love as men are. But as the controversy between 
you might be too long, it will be well to postpone it until to- 
morrow." 

308 



THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

" Nay, until this evening," said messer Cesare Gonzaga. 

" How until this evening? " said my lady Duchess. 

Messer Cesare replied: 

" Because it is already day; " and he showed her the light that 
was beginning to come in through the cracks at the windows. 

Then everyone rose to his feet in great surprise, for the discus- 
sion did not seem to have lasted longer than usual; but by 
reason of having been begun much later, and by its pleasantness, 
it had so beguiled the company that they had not perceived the 
flight of hours; nor was there anyone who felt the heaviness 
of sleep upon his eyes, which nearly always happens when 
the accustomed hour of sleep is passed in watching. The win- 
dows having then been opened on that side of the palace which 
looks towards the lofty crest of Mount Catria,*** they saw that a 
beautiful dawn of rosy hue was already born in the east, and 
that all the stars had vanished save Venus, sweet mistress of the 
sky, who holds the bonds of night and day; from which there 
seemed to breathe a gentle wind that filled the air with crisp 
coolness and began to waken sweet choruses of joyous birds in 
the murmuring forests of the hills hard by. 

So, having reverently taken leave of my lady Duchess, they all 
started towards their chambers without light of torches, that of 
day being enough for them; and as they were about to quit the 
room, my lord Prefect turned to my lady Duchess, and said: 

" My Lady, to finish the controversy between my lord Gaspar 
and my lord Magnifico, we will come with our judge this evening 
earlier than we did yesterday." 

My lady Emilia replied: 

" On condition that if my lord Gaspar wishes to accuse women 
and put some fresh imputation upon them, as is his wont, he 
shall also give bond to sustain his ch'arge, for I account him 
a shifty disputant." 



309 



NOTES 



VXORI DILECTISSIMAE 
OPERIS ADIVTRICI 



PRELIMINARY NOTES 

Baldesar Castiglione was born on his father's estate of Casatico in the 
Mantuan territory, 6 December 1478. Michelangelo was his senior by four 
years; Leo X by three years; Titian by one year; Giorgione and Cesare 
Borgia were born in the year of his birth, while his friend Raphael and also 
Luther were his juniors by five years. 

His surname is said to be derived from the little town at which Bona- 
parte defeated the Austrians near Mantua in 1796, and which is by some sup- 
posed to have taken its name from Castrum Stiliconis, Camp of Stilico, a 
Roman general of the 4th century. One Tealdo Castiglione was Archbishop 
of Milan as early as 1074, from which time the family is often and honourably 
mentioned in the annals of northern Italy. 

Baldesar's parents were Count Cristoforo Castiglione, a soldier- courtier, and 
Luigia Gonzaga, a near kinswoman of the Marquess of Mantua. The b"oy 
studied at Milan, — learning Latin from Giorgio Merula and Greek from 
Demetrios Chalcondylas, an erudite Athenian who had fled from Byzantium 
about 1447, and of whom another pupil wrote: "It seems to me that in him 
are figured all the wisdom, the civility and the elegance of those ancients who 
are so famous and so illustrious. Merely seeing him, you fancy you are look- 
ing on Plato; far more when you hear him speak." 

Having spent some time at the splendid court of Ludovico Sforza at Milan, 
Castiglione lost his father in 1499, and (the Sforzas being expelled the same year) 
he returned to Mantua and entered the service of his natural lord, the Mar- 
quess Gianfrancesco Gonzaga; he accompanied this prince to Milan to wit- 
ness the entry of Louis XII of France, and afterwards on an expedition to aid 
the French in their vain effort to hold the kingdom of Naples against the 
Aragonese. When Gonzaga abandoned the French cause (after being de- 
feated by Ferdinand the Catholic's "Great Captain," Consalvo de Cordova, 
near the Garigliano in 1503), Castiglione obtained leave to go to Rome, and 
there met Duke Guidobaldo di Montefeltro, who had come to pay homage to 
the newly elected Pope Julius II. He entered the duke's service, and soon 
became one of the brightest ornaments of that brilliant company of statesmen, 
prelates, scholars, poets, wits and ladies, known as the Court of Urbino. 

In 1504 he took part, under Duke Guidobaldo, in the papal siege of Cesena 
against the Venetians. The next year he attended the duke on a diplomatic 
visit to Rome. In 1506 he was sent to the court of Henry VII of England to 
receive the insignia of the Order of the Garter on the duke's behalf. As appears 
from a letter to his mother, he returned to Urbino as early as 5 March 1507, 
notwithstanding his mention of himself in THE COURTIER as still absent 
in England at the date (8-11 March) of the dialogues he professes to report at 
second hand. In the same year he was sent on a mission to Louis XII at Milan. 



PRELIMINARY NOTES 

On Guidobaldo's death in 1508, Castiglione continued in the service of the 
new duke, Francesco Maria della Rovere ("my lord Prefect" of The Cour- 
tier), who appointed him governor of Gubbio. In the following year he 
served in his master's campaign against the Venetians, and contracted a dan- 
gerous illness, during which he was tenderly nursed by the dowager duchess, 
Elisabetta Gonzaga. In 1511 he accompanied the duke to Rome on the occa- 
sion of the latter's trial for the murder of Cardinal Alidosi, and was active in 
Francesco Maria's successful defence. In 1513 the duke created him Count of 
Novillara and gave him an estate of that name, which however he soon lost 
through the Medici usurpation of the duchy, and never regained. At the death 
of Julius II, Castiglione was ambassador to the sacred college, and continued 
in that office during nearly the whole of Leo X's pontificate. His numerous 
letters show the variety and importance of the diplomatic business in which 
he was engaged. 

Several plans for his marriage came to nothing, and on one occasion, when ■ 
the lady's father hesitated, the suitor broke off negotiations, saying: "The 
wife that I am to take, be she who she may, I desire that she should be given 
to me with as good will as I take her withal, — yea, if she were the daughter 
of a king." 

Pope Leo having in 1516 basely deprived Francesco Maria of the Duchy of 
Urbino, Castiglione accepted an invitation to Mantua and there married Ippo- 
lita, daughter of Count Guido Torello di Montechiarugolo and Francesca 
Bentivoglio, a daughter of the former ruler of Bologna. This union proved 
exceptionally happy and was blessed by three children : a son Camillo, a 
daughter Anna, and a second daughter Ippolita, whose birth cost the young 
mother her life in 1520. His son attained the age of eighty years, and is 
said to have been the true embodiment of the qualities described in The 
Courtier. 

Castiglione resided alternately at Mantua and at Rome, where he served as 
Mantuan ambassador, and where his learning, wit, taste, gentle disposition 
and integrity earned for him an almost unique eminence at the papal court. 

In 1524 he was sent by Pope Clement VII as ambassador to the Emperor 
Charles V (who was waging war against the French in Italy), but while his 
counsel and high qualities were appreciated, he was too honest a man to cope 
with the tortuous politics of the time, and proved unable to avert the capture 
and sack of Rome (1527) or the imprisonment of the pope. These catastrophes, 
together with a malicious and easily disproved charge of treason brought 
against him, preyed upon his health, and despite the many honours conferred 
upon him by Charles, he failed to rally, and finally died at Toledo, 7 February 
1529, without again seeing his native land. His body was afterwards brought 
to Italy and buried in the church of the Madonna delle Grazie near Mantua, 
where his tomb was erected from designs by his young friend Giulio Romano. 

Besides The Courtier, his writings comprise: Tirsi, an eclogue of fifty- 
five stanzas in ottatia rima, written and recited at the court of Urbino for the 
carnival of 1506; a prologue and epilogue for his friend Bibbiena's Calandra ; 
a few Italian lyrics of moderate merit; and some better Latin elegies and epi- 

314 



PRELIMINARY NOTES 

grams; nearly all composed during his embassy at Rome. A large number 
of his letters also have been preserved. 

His fine character is reflected in that of his Courtier, who (as Symonds says) 
" is, with one or two points of immaterial difference, a modern gentleman, such 
as all men of education at the present day would wish to be." It may perhaps 
aid the reader to realize the time in which the author lived, to recall that when 
Castiglione was born, printing had been practised in Italy for thirteen years, 
that the earliest Greek grammar had been printed two years, that America 
was discovered when he was a boy, that the Reformation began when he was 
in the prime of life, and that the Lutherans were first called Protestants in the 
year of his death. 

The first (Aldine) edition of The Courtier was issued thirteen years 
after the death of Teohaldo Manucci, the illustrious founder of the press that 
continued to bear his name, and consisted of one thousand and thirty-one 
copies, of which thirty were on large paper and one on vellum. It is a small 
folio of one hundred and twenty-two leaves, the type-page measuring almost 
precisely nine and one-quarter inches by five and one-eighth inches. In its 
ordinary form the book can hardly be called rare, as in 1895 the present trans- 
lator secured a good copy from Leipsic for forty-five francs. 

The earliest Spanish translator, BOSCAN, (born at Barcelona about 1493; 
died in France about 1542), was of gentle birth. Early becoming a soldier, he 
served with credit in Charles V's Italian campaigns, and thus acquired famili- 
arity with the language and literature of Italy. He is said to have known 
Castiglione personally. Having been for some time tutor to the young prince 
who was later known as the Duke of Alva, he married and devoted the rest of 
his short life to letters. As a writer he is best known as the founder of the 
Italian poetical school in Spain, Ticknor says that Boscan's version of THE 
Courtier hardly professes to be literal, but that perhaps nothing in Cas- 
tilian prose of an earlier date is written in so classical and finished a style. 
It has been often reprinted (as recently as 1873), and was found useful by the 
present translator in doubtful passages. 

The earliest French translator, CoLIN, (died 1547), was a native of Auxerre 
and enjoyed the favour of Francis I, whom he served as reader and almoner, 
and who bestowed upon him the abbotship of St. Ambrose at Tours, as well 
as other ecclesiastical offices. In his prosperity he showed much kindness to 
his less fortunate brother authors, but he was too free of speech to be perma- 
nently successful as a courtier, and lost his preferments. His translation of 
The Courtier, which some writers erroneously ascribe to Jean Chaperon, 
is little esteemed, was soon issued with corrections by another hand, and then 
followed by another French version. He translated also parts of Homer and 
Ovid, and composed original verse in Latin and French. For an account of 
Castiglione's influence upon French literature and of his many French imita- 
tors, consult Pietro Toldo's " Le Courtisan dans la litt^rature fran9aise et ses 

315 



PRELIMINARY NOTES 

rapports avec I'oeuvre du Castiglione," (Archiv fur das Studium der Neueren 
Sprachen und Litteraturen, C. iv, pp. 75 and 313, and C. v, p. 60). 

The earliest English translator, HOBY, (born 1530; died 1566), was the son 
of William and Katherine (Forden) Hoby of Herefordshire. Having studied 
at Cambridge, he visited France, Italy and other foreign countries. In 1565-6 
he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and sent as ambassador to France, where 
he soon died, leaving several children and a widow. This lady was the third 
of Sir Anthony Cooke's five learned daughters, of whom the eldest married Sir 
William Cecil (afterwards Lord Burleigh), while the second became the mother 
of Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam. Interesting details of Hoby's life and of the 
manners of the time are given in his unpublished diary, preserved in the British 
Museum. His version of The Courtier was carefully made, and although 
rough to our ears and occasionally obscure, it became very popular and was 
several times republished. A beautiful reprint of the original edition has 
recently been issued (1900), in a scholarly introduction to which Professor 
Walter Raleigh traces the influence of the book upon Elizabethan writers. 
The Courtier, and especially Hoby's translation of it, are the subject of 
a very interesting study by Mary Augusta Scott, Ph.D., printed in the Publi- 
cations of the Modern Language Association of America, vol. xvi (1901), no. 4. 
In 1570 Roger Ascham wrote in his "Schoolmaster:" "To join learning with 
comely exercises. Count Baldesar Castiglione in his book CORTEGIANO doth 
trimly teach: which book, advisedly read and diligently followed but one year 
at home in England, would do a young gentleman more good, I wis, than three 
years' travel abroad in Italy. And I marvel this book is not more read in the 
Court than it is, seeing it is so well translated into English by a worthy gentle- 
man, Sir Thomas Hobbie, who was many ways well furnished with learning, 
and very expert in knowledge of divers tongues." 

Of the first German translator, LORENZ Kratzer, little more is known than 
that he was an officer of customs at Burckhausen, in Bavaria, from 1565 to 
1588, and that he speaks of having devoted to letters the ample leisure which 
his duties permitted. Although said to be meritorious, his work can hardly 
have gained wide currency, as both Noyse (whose German translation of THE 
Courtier was published at Dilingen in 1593) and a third German translator 
(whose version was issued at Frankfort in 1684 under the initials "J. C. L. L. J.") 
seem to have regarded themselves each as the easiest in the field. 

The first Latin translator, TuRLER, (born 1550; died 1602), was a Doctor 
Juris, and became burgomaster of his native town of Lossnitz, near Leipsic. 
Besides THE COURTIER, he translated several of Machiavelli's works into 
Latin. 



316 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

Note I, page i. Dom MIGUEL DE SiLVA, (born about 1480; died 1556), 
was the second son of Diogo da Silva and Maria de Ayala, Count and Countess 
of Portalegre, a province of central Portugal. Having studied at the univer- 
sities of Paris, Siena and Bologna, he was soon called to the court of Emanuel 
of Portugal, held various ecclesiastical posts, and was made Bishop of Viseu 
in the Province of Beira. As ambassador to Popes Leo X, Adrian VI and 
Clement VII, he paid long visits to Rome, where his friendship with Casti- 
glione probably began. During the twenty years that followed 1521 he served 
John III of Portugal as Escribano de la Puridad; then, having been made a 
cardinal by Paul III, he spent the remainder of his life in the papal service, 
died in Rome, and was buried in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. 
Eminent as a prelate and a diplomatist, he also enjoyed no small repute as an 
author and an elegant Latinist. 

Note 2, page i. GUIDOBALDO Dl MONTEFELTRO, Duke of Urbino, (bom 
1472; died 1508), was the only son of Duke Federico di Montefeltro and 
Battista Sforza, an accomplished niece of the first Sforza duke of Milan. Pre- 
cocious as a child, he was elaborately yet judiciously educated, and much of 
the praise bestowed upon him in The Courtier is shown by contemporary 
evidence to have been just. On his father's death in 1482, both he and his State 
were confided to his cousin Ubaldini (see note 273), who seems to have been 
loyal to the trust, although next heir to the duchy. From records that have 
survived, Dennistoun extracts some details of the young duke's court: "To all 
persons composing the ducal household, unexceptionable manners were indis- 
pensable. In those of higher rank there were further required competent tal- 
ents and learning, a grave deportment, and fluency of speech. The servants 
must be of steady habits and respectable character; regular in all private 
transactions; of good address, modest and graceful; willing and neat handed 
in their service. There is likewise inculcated the most scrupulous personal 
cleanliness, especially of the hands, with particular injunctions as to frequent 
ablutions, and extraordinary precautions against the unpleasant effects of hot 
weather on their persons and clothing; in case of need, medical treatment is 
enjoined to correct the breath. Those who wore livery had two suits a year, 
generally of fustian, though to some silk doublets were given for summer use." 

In 1489 Guidobaldo married Elisabetta Gonzaga, a sister of the Marquess of 
Mantua. All hopes, however, of an heir were soon abandoned, apparently 
owing to the young duke's physical infirmities, which were increased by over 
exercise and in time unfitted him for all active occupations. Nevertheless he 
was able to take part in the vain resistance to Charles VIII's invasion of Italy, 
and later in the expulsion of the French from the kingdom of Naples. 'While 

317 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

fighting in the service of Pope Alexander VI in 1497, he was taken prisoner 
and forced to pay a ransom of 30,000 ducats, a sum then equivalent to about 
twice that number of modern pounds sterling, and raised only at the sacrifice 
of his duchess's jewels. In 1501 he aided rather than opposed Louis XII's 
invasion of Naples. 

In 1502 the pope's son Cesare Borgia treacherously seized the Duchy of 
Urbino. To spare his people bloodshed and ruin, Guidobaldo fled in disguise 
to his brother-in-law at Mantua, and after a vain appeal to Louis XII, found 
an honourable asylum at Venice. In the same year he regained his dominions 
for a short time, but was again forced to take flight. On the death of Alex- 
ander VI (August 1503), Cesare's power crumbled, Guidobaldo easily recov- 
ered his duchy, and his position was soon assured by the election of Julius II, 
who was not only his personal friend, but also the brother of his sister Gio- 
vanna's husband. In 1504 he formally adopted as his heir this sister's son, 
Francesco Maria della Rovere, and (as we have seen) took into his service the 
future author of The Courtier. His learning, amiability and munificence 
attracted choice spirits to his court, which came to be regarded as the first in 
Italy. Pope Julius was splendidly entertained there on his way both to and 
from his Bologna campaign, and the Courtier dialogues are represented as 
taking place immediately after his departure for Rome in March 1507. 

Long an invalid, Guidobaldo became more and more a martyr to his gout, 
which was aggravated by a season of exceptional drought and cold and brought 
him final relief from suffering in April 1508. His fame rests, not upon his 
military and political achievements, but upon the beauty of his character, the 
variety of his intellectual accomplishments, the patience with which he 
endured reverses, illness and forced inaction, and upon the culture and 
refinement that characterized his court. 

Note 3, page i. Francesco Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, (born 
1490; died 1538), was the son of Giovanni della Rovere and Duke Guidobaldo's 
sister Giovanna di Montefeltro. Giovanni was a nephew of Pope Sixtus IV 
(who had made him Prefect of Rome), and a younger brother of Cardinal 
Giuliano della Rovere, afterwards Pope Julius II. 

On his father's death in 1501, Francesco was brought to the court of his 
uncle Guidobaldo, who secured for him a renewal of the Prefecture and super- 
intended his education. In The Courtier he appears as " my lord Prefect." 
During the Borgian usurpation of the duchy, he found refuge at the court of 
Louis XII; and soon after the fall of the Borgias and his uncle Julius II's acces- 
sion, he was adopted as Guidobaldo's heir, while through the mediation of 
Castiglione a marriage was arranged for him with Eleanora, daughter to the 
Marquess of Mantua and niece to the Duchess of Urbino. He now resided 
chiefly with his uncle, acquainting himself with his future subjects and duties. 
Although he possessed many of the good qualities ascribed to him in The 
Courtier, his temper was ungovernable, and before reaching the age of 
eighteen he slew one of the members of the court, who was accused of 
•educing his sister. 

318 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

Having become duke in 1508, he was married on Christmas Eve of that 
year. In the following spring he commanded the papal forces in the League 
of Cambray, and despite the obstacles put in his way by his colleague Cardinal 
Alidosi (see note 268), he soon reduced the Romagna towns, the recovery of 
which from Venice was Julius II's chief object in forming the league. In a 
later campaign against the French, Bologna was lost to the Church (1511) 
through the treachery of Alidosi, who craftily contrived to have the blame fall 
upon Francesco, and was murdered by the latter at Ravenna. After a long 
trial before six cardinals, in which ample proof of the dead man's treason was 
presented, and an eloquent appeal made by Beroaldo (see note 235), — the 
young duke was acquitted and restored to the pope's favour. 

Although both Francesco and his predecessor had generously befriended 
the Medici during their exile from Florence (1494-1512), Leo X (Giovanni de' 
Medici) seized his duchy in 1516, to bestow it on a nephew, Lorenzo de' Medici. 
It is needless to speak here of Francesco's restoration in 1521, of his failure to 
relieve Pope Clement VII when Rome was sacked in 1527, or of his later life. 

W^hile small in person, Francesco was active and well formed. His man- 
ners were gentle and his character forgiving, in spite of his fiery temper. 
Strict in religious observances and an enemy to blasphemous language, he 
was also creditably intolerant of those outrages upon womanly honour with 
which war was then fraught. He was famous chiefly as a soldier, and by so 
competent a judge as the Emperor Charles V was regarded as master of the 
military science of his day. 

Note 4, page i. This disclaimer of careful authorship is not to be taken too 
literally. At least a draft of Books I-III seems to have been made at Urbino 
between April 1508 and May 1509, while Book IV was probably written at 
Rome in the earlier part of the interval between September 1513 and March 
1516. Castiglione apparently continued to revise his work until 1518, when he 
sent his MS. to Bembo. See Silvestro Marcello's pamphlet, " La Cronologia 
del Cortegiano di Baldesar Castiglione." Pisa, 1895. 

Note 5, page i. As has been seen, Castiglione resided at the Spanish court 
from 1524 until his death in 1529. 

Note 6, page i. VlTTORIA COLONNA, (born 1490; died 1547), was the daugh- 
ter of Fabrizio Colonna (grand-nephew of Pope Martin V) and Agnese di 
Montefeltro, a sister of Duke Guidobaldo. At the age of four she was betrothed 
to the Marquess of Pescara, whom she married in her nineteenth year at 
Ischia (the fief and residence of his family), and who afterwards became a 
famous soldier. During his long absences in the field, she consoled herself 
with books, and after his death in 1525, her widowhood was spent in retirement 
and finally in semi-monastic seclusion at Rome. The time spared from pious 
exercises she devoted to study, the composition of poetry, correspondence 
with illustrious men of letters, and the society of learned persons. Although 
she never became a convert to Protestantism, the liberality of some of her 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

friends' belief exposed her to ecclesiastical censure in her old age. Her cele- 
brated friendship with Michelangelo began when he was past sixty and she 
had nearly reached fifty years. They frequently exchanged verses, and he is 
said to have visited her on her death-bed. Her poems are chiefly sonnets to 
the memory of her husband or verses on sacred and moral subjects. 

Note 7, page i. The following passage is from a letter written by Castiglione 
to the Marchioness: " I am the more deeply obliged to your Ladyship, because 
the necessity you have put me under, of sending the book at once to the printer, 
relieves me from the trouble of adding many things that I had already prepared 
in my mind, — things (I need hardly say) of little import, like the rest of the 
book; so that your Ladyship has saved the reader from tedium, and the author 
from blame." 

Despite the many decrees of popes, emperors and other potentates, literary 
piracy seems to have been quite as common in Castiglione's time as in ours. 
He was obviously none too prompt in his precautions, as an apparently unau- 
thorized edition of The Courtier was issued at Florence by the heirs of 
Filippo di Giunta in the October following its first publication at Venice in 
April 1528. 

Note 8, page 2. Alfonso Ariosto, (died 1526), was a cousin of the poet 
Ludovico. Little more seems to be known of him than that his father's name 
was Bonifazio, that he was a gentle cavalier and brave soldier in the service of 
the Este family, and that he was a friend of Castiglione and of Bembo. His name 
appears at the head of each of the four dialogues composing The Courtier, 
and they purport to have been written at his suggestion. Senor A. M. Fabid, 
in his notes to the 1873 reprint of Boscan's translation, affirms that Alfonso 
Ariosto had nothing to do with the poet Ludovico, belonged to a noble 
Bolognese family, and enjoyed much favour at the court of Francis I of 
France. 

Note 9, page 2. GiULiANO DE' Medici, (born 1478; died 1516), was the third 
son of Lorenzo the Magnificent and Clarice Orsini. His education seems to 
have been for a time entrusted to the famous scholar-poet Poliziano (see note 
105). During his family's exile from Florence (1494-1512), he resided much at 
the court of Urbino, where he was known as "the Magnifico Giuliano," and 
where one wing of the great palace was reserved to his use and is still called 
by his name. He became the father of a boy afterwards known as Cardinal 
Ippolito de' Medici, — the original of Titian's fine portrait in the Pitti Gallery. 
On the restoration of the Medici, Giuliano was placed at the head of affairs in 
his native city and succeeded in winning the good will of the Florentines, but 
his gentle disposition and love of ease thwarted other ambitious projects formed 
for his advancement by his brother Leo X, and he was too grateful to the dukes 
of Urbino for their hospitality to accept the pope's intended appropriation of 
their duchy for his benefit. In 1515 he married Filiberta of Savoy and was 
created Duke of Nemours by her nephew Francis I of France. In the same 

320 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

year he was appointed Captain General of the Church, but failing health pre- 
vented his actual service, and he soon died of fever at Florence, not without 
suspicion of poison at the hands of his nephew Lorenzo. 

Several of his sonnets have survived, and are said to show no mean poetic 
faculty. Apart, however, from his appearance as an interlocutor in The 
Courtier and in Bembo's Prose, his memory is best preserved by Michel- 
angelo's famous tomb at Florence. 

Note 10, page 2. "Messer Bernardo" (Dovizi), better known by the 
name of his birthplace Bibbiena, (born 1470; died 1520), was of humble 
parentage. His elder brother Pietro was secretary to Lorenzo de' Medici, and 
secured his admission to the Magnifico's household, where he shared the 
education of the young Giovanni and became a devoted friend of that future 
pope. Following the Medici into exile, he travelled about Europe with Gio- 
vanni and attended Giuliano to Urbino, where he received the warm welcome 
always accorded there to such as combined learning with courtly manners. 
By the Duke of Urbino he seems to have been so commended to the favour of 
Julius II, that he was able to aid Michelangelo in securing part payment for 
the Sistine Chapel frescoes, of which payment, however, he accepted five per 
cent, as a gift from the painter. At the death of Julius, he was secretary to 
his friend Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, and in that capacity had access to 
the conclave, where his adroitness was largely helpful in effecting his patron's 
election as pope. Leo at once made him Cardinal of Santa Maria in Portico 
and loaded him with lucrative offices. During the Medicean usurpation of the 
Duchy of Urbino, he showed no gratitude for the kindness enjoyed by him at 
that court. He became very rich, and was a liberal patron of authors and ar- 
tists. Raphael devised to him the house of the architect Bramante, which the 
painter had bought for a sum equivalent to about ;£'6,ooo, and which was after- 
wards demolished in extending the piazza in front of St. Peter's. 

Besides a large number of his letters, for the most part unpublished, we 
have his play, Calandra, founded upon the Mencechmi of Plautus and once 
esteemed as the earliest Italian prose comedy. 

Although he was bald, and although his friend Raphael's portrait hardly 
justifies the epithet, he was known as the '^ Bel Bernardo." A contemporary 
MS. in the Vatican describes him as " a facetious character, with no mean 
powers of ridicule, and much tact in promoting jocular conversation by his 
wit and well-timed jests. He was a great favourite with certain cardinals, 
whose chief pursuit was pleasure and the chase, for he thoroughly knew all 
their habits and fancies, and was even aware of whatever vicious propensities 
they had. He likewise possessed a singular pliancy for flattery, and for obse- 
quiously accommodating himself to their whims, stooping patiently to be the 
butt of insulting and abusive jokes, and shrinking from nothing that could 
render him acceptable to them. He also had much readiness in council, and 
was perfectly able seasonably to qualify his wit with wisdom, or to dissemble 
with singular cunning." On the other hand, Bembo wrote of him to their 
friend Federico Fregoso: "The days seem years until I see him, and enjoy 

321 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

the pleasing society, the charming conversation, the wit, the jests, the features 
and the affection of that man." 

It was to Bibbiena, a few weeks before his death in 1520, that Isabella 
d'Este, dowager Marchioness of Mantua (see note 397), entrusted the duty of 
breaking as gently as possible to Castiglione (then Mantuan ambassador at 
Rome) the news of the sudden death of the latter's young wife. " We told him 
the sad news," wrote Bibbiena, " as best we could, . . . none of us could keep 
back our tears, and we all wept together for some time." 

Note II, page 2. Ottaviano Fregoso, (died 1524), belonged to a noble 
Genoese family that had long distinguished itself in public service and had 
furnished several doges to the Republic. His parents were Agostino Fregoso 
and Gentile di Montefeltro, a half-sister of Duke Guidobaldo. Driven from 
Genoa as early as 1497, he entered his uncle's court at Urbino and rendered 
important military services, especially during the struggle with Cesare Borgia, 
in which he gallantly defended the fortress of San Leo (see note 275), and 
was rewarded with the lordship of Santa Agata in the Apennines. In 1506 he 
commanded the papal forces for the recovery of Bologna, and later in the League 
of Cambray against Venice. In 1513 he succeeded in putting an end to French 
domination in Genoa, was elected doge, and ruled so beneficently for two years 
that when Francis I regained the city, Fregoso was continued as governor. 
In 1522 Genoa was captured and sacked by Spanish and German troops, and 
Fregoso given over to the Marquess of Pescara, treated harshly (despite 
Castiglione's intercession on his behalf), and carried to Ischia, where he died. 

Note 12, page 2. " My lady Duchess," Elisabetta Gonzaqa, (born 1471; 
died 1526), was the second daughter of the Marquess Federico Gonzaga of 
Mantua and Margarita of Bavaria. She married Duke Guidobaldo in 1489. 
In 1502 she reluctantly attended the festivities for the marriage, at Ferrara, of 
Lucrezia Borgia to Alfonso d'Este, and some of her costumes are thus 
described by an eye-witness: On entering Ferrara, she rode a black mule 
caparisoned in black velvet embroidered with woven gold, and wore a mantle 
of black velvet strewn with triangles of beaten gold, a string of pearls about 
her neck, and a cap of gold; another day indoors she wore a mantle of brown 
velvet slashed, and caught up with chains of massive gold; another day a 
gown of black velvet striped with gold, with a jewelled necklace and diadem; 
and still another day, a black velvet robe embroidered ■with gold ciphers. 

During the Borgian usurpation of their duchy in the same year, she shared 
her husband's exile at Venice, and on returning to Urbino earlier than Guido- 
baldo, she amused herself with a scenic representation of the chief events that 
had occurred during their absence. She cared for her husband tenderly in his 
illnesses, administered his government wisely when he was called away, and 
on his death acted as regent and guardian for his nephew and successor, with 
whom she maintained affectionate relations as long as she lived, and from 
appropriating whose dominions she strove to the utmost to dissuade Leo X. 

Next to her husband's niece by marriage, Emilia Pia (see note 37), her closest 

322 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

friend seems to have been her brother's wife, the famous Isabella d'Este (see 
note 397), with whom she often travelled and continually corresponded by 
letter. Although still young and accounted beautiful at her husband's death, 
she remained faithful to his memory, and the years of her widowhood were 
cheered by the companionship of her niece, the young duchess Eleanora of 
Urbino (see note 432). If we may trust universal contemporary opinion of her 
virtues and beauty, the author of The Courtier flattered her as little as did 
the painter of her portrait in the Uffizi Gallery. 

Note 13, page 3. Vittoria Colonna seems to have had this passage in mind 
when she wrote, 20 September 1524, to Castiglione in praise of his book: "It 
would not be fitting for me to tell you what I think of it, for the same 
reason which you say prevents you from speaking of the beauty of my lady 
Duchess." 

Note 14, page 3. GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO, (born 1313; died 1375), was the natural 
son of a Florentine tradesman and a Frenchwoman with whom his father had 
made acquaintance during a business residence at Paris. In early manhood 
he engaged in commerce at Naples, and had but little learning in his youth, 
although he studied law for a time. Erudition and authorship became the 
serious enthusiasm of his life, owing (it is said) to a chance visit to the sup- 
posed tomb of Virgil at Naples. In middle life he began the study of Greek at 
his friend Petrarch's suggestion; and although he never acquired more than 
what would now be deemed a superficial knowledge of that language, as a 
Hellenist he had no precursor in Italy. An ardent if somewhat unappreciative 
admirer of Dante (whose Dimna Commedia he transcribed with his own hands), 
he was the first Italian author to write for the common people, instead of com- 
posing books suited only to the learned and patrician classes. His style was 
formed by tireless study of classic models, and became a standard for imitation 
by his successors. 

Note 15, page 3. It is now known that the considerations that led Boccaccio 
to underrate his poems and tales, ^were ethical rather than literary. 

Note 16, page 5. Theophrastus, (born 374; died 287 B.C.), was a native of 
Lesbos, but resided at Athens. The chief disciple and successor of Aristotle, 
he wrote also upon a great variety of subjects other than philosophy. His 
best known work, the "Characters," is a collection of sprightly sketches of 
human types. La Bruy^re's famous book of the same name was originally 
a mere translation from Theophrastus. The incident mentioned in the text is 
thus described in Cicero's Brutus: "When he asked a certain old woman for 
how much she would sell something, and she answered him and added, 
'Stranger, it can't be had for less,' — he was vexed at being taken for a stranger 
although he had grown old at Athens and spoke to perfection." 

Note 17, page 5. I. e., pages 39-54. 
323 



NOTES TO THE DEDICATORY LETTER 

Note i8, page 5. The reference here is to Plato's " Republic," Xenophon's 
Cyropcedia, and Cicero's De Oratore. 

Note 19, page 6. In the letter quoted in note 13, Vittoria Colonna wrote: "I 
do not marvel at your portraying a perfect courtier well, for by merely holding 
a mirrour before you and considering your inward and outward parts, you 
could describe him as you have; but our greatest difficulty being to know 
ourselves, I say that it was more difficult for you to portray yourself than 
another man." 

Note 20, page 6. More than 140 editions of The Courtier have been pub- 
lished. Most of these are mentioned in the list printed before the Index of 
this volume. A few of the editions there set down differ from one another 
only in title-page; a few others, perhaps, exist only in some bibliographer's 
erroneous mention. Deductions to be made for such reasons, however, are 
probably offset by other editions that the present translator has failed to bring 
to light. 

In the bibliographical notes appended by the brothers Volpi to their (1733) 
edition. The Courtier is said to have been translated into Flemish ; while in 
his preface to the Sonzogno (1890) edition, Corio speaks of the introduction of 
the book into Japan in the 17th century, and also of a Russian translation by 
Archiuzow. 



324 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 21, page ^. " Courtiership " is a sadly awkward rendering of the Italian 
cortegiania, which implies not only courtesy and courtliness, but all the many 
other qualities and accomplishments essential to the perfect Courtier or (what 
in Castiglione's time was the same) the perfect Gentleman. 

Note 22, page 8. The extreme dimensions of the Duchy of Urbino were 64 
miles from east to west, and 60 miles from north to south. Its population 
did not much exceed 150,000. 

Note 23, page 8. The first of the four dialogues is represented as having been 
held on the evening of the day after the close of a certain visit paid by Pope 
Julius II to Urbino on his return from a successful campaign against Bologna. 
This visit is known to have lasted from 3 March to 7 March 1507. Cas- 
tiglione returned from England as early as 5 March, on which date he wrote 
to his mother from Urbino: "We have had his Holiness here for two days." 
It seems probable that this fictitious prolongation of his absence in England 
was simply a graceful excuse for not himself appearing in the dialogues. 

Note 24, page 8. There were a fief and Count of Montefeltro as early as 1154, 
and his son was made Count of Urbino in 1216, from which time their male 
descendants ruled over a gradually increased territory until 1508, when the 
duchy passed to the female line. The name Montefeltro is said to have origi- 
nated in that of a temple to Jupiter Feretrius, which in Roman times occupied 
the summit of the crag afterwards known as San Leo, in the Duchy of Urbino. 

Note 25, page 9. Such a rule as that of the usurping Cesare Borgia (1502-3) 
can hardly have been welcome to a population accustomed to the mild sway 
of the Montefeltro family. 

Note 26, page 9. " DuKE FEDERico" Di Montefeltro, (born 1422; died 
1482), was a natural son of Count Guidantonio di Montefeltro, as appears from 
the act of legitimation issued by Pope Martin V and also from his father's 
testament, by virtue whereof (as well as by the choice of the people) he suc- 
ceeded his half-brother Count Oddantonio in 1444. In his boyhood he resided 
fifteen months as a hostage at Venice. Later he studied the theory and prac- 
tice of war at the Mantuan court, and was trained in the humanities by the 
famous Vittorino da Feltre. In 1437 he married Gentile Brancaleone, who 
died childless in 1457. Nearly the whole of his life was spent in military ser- 
vice, as paid ally, now of one prince, now of another. In this capacity he 
became not only the most noted commander of his time, but always displayed 

325 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

perfect and exceptional fidelity to the causes that he undertook. In 1450 he 
lost an eye and suffered a fracture of the nose in a tournament; contemporary 
portraits represent his features in profile. In 1454 he began the construction 
of the great palace at Urbino. In 1460, at the suggestion of Francesco Sforza 
(whom he had aided to become Duke of Milan), he married the latter's accom- 
plished niece Battista Sforza, who bore him seven daughters and one son, 
Guidobaldo. In 1474 he was made Duke of Urbino and appointed Captain 
General of the Church by Pope Sixtus IV, and was unanimously elected a 
Knight of the Garter. He died of fever contracted during military operations 
in the malarial country near Ferrara. The vast sums spent by him on public 
buildings, art objects and books, and upon the maintenance of his splendid 
household, were not extorted from his subjects, but were received from foreign 
states in return for war service. Thus at the close of his life he drew a yearly 
stipend equivalent to about £'330,000. 

It is not easy to draw a picture of his character that shall seem unflattered. 
Vespasiano, who by years of labour collected his famous library for him, says 
that his "establishment was conducted with the regularity of a religious frater- 
nity, rather than like a military household. Gambling and profanity were 
unknown, and singular decorum of language was observed, whilst many noble 
youths, sent there to learn good manners and military discipline, were reared 
under the most exemplary tuition. He regarded his subjects as his children, 
and was at all times accessible to hear them personally state their petitions, 
being careful to give answers without unnecessary delay. He walked freely 
about the streets, entering their shops and workrooms, and enquiring into 
their circumstances with paternal interest. ... In summer he was in the 
saddle at dawn, and rode three or four miles into the country with half-a-dozen 
of his court . . reaching home again when others were just up. After mass, 
he went into an open garden and gave audience to all comers until breakfast- 
time. When at table, he listened to the Latin historians, chiefly Livy, except 
in Lent, when some religious book was read, anyone being free to enter the 
hall and speak with him then. His fare was plain and substantial, denying 
himself sweet dishes and wine, except drinks of pomegranates, cherries, apples, 
or other fruits. After dinner and supper, an able judge of appeal stated in 
Latin the causes brought before him, on which the duke gave judgment in 
that language; . . . When his mid-day meal was finished, if no one appeared 
to ask audience, he retired to his closet and transacted private business, or 
listened to reading until evening approached, when he generally walked out, 
giving patient ear to all who accosted him in the streets. He then occasion- 
ally visited ... a meadow belonging to the Franciscans, where thirty or 
forty of the youths brought up in his court stripped their doublets, and played 
at throwing the bar, or at wrestling, or ball. This was a fine sight, which the 
duke much enjoyed, encouraging the lads, and listening freely to all until 
supper-time. When that and the audiences were over, he repaired to a pri- 
vate apartment with his principal courtiers, whom, after some familiar talk, 
he would dismiss to bed, taxing them with their sluggish indulgence of a 
morning." 

326 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 27, page 9. In a Greek epigram written in a book borrowed from Duke 
Guidobaldo, Poliziano (see note 105) praises the lender as the worthy son of a 
father who never suffered defeat, dvtK^Toio Trarpof yovov. History shows that 
this phrase was a rhetorical exaggeration, but it became almost proverbial. 

Note 28, page g. Although long since despoiled of its treasures, the palace 
is still one of the architectural monuments of Italy. Many writers have de- 
scribed its magnificence, — some of the fullest accounts being those by Bernar- 
dino Baldi (1553-1617); Fr. Arnold {Der Hersogliche Palast von Vrhino ; Leipsic: 
1857); J. A. Symonds ("Italian Byways;" London: 1883; pp. 129-155); Charles 
Blanc (Histoire de la Renaissance Artistique en Italic; Paris: 1894; ii, 87-90); 
and Egidio Calzini (Urbino e i Snoi Monumenti ; Florence: 1899; pp. 9-46). 
Baldi's description will be found reprinted as an appendix to Rigutini's (1889 
and 1892) editions of The Courtier. 

For more than fourteen years Duke Federico employed from thirty to forty 
copyists in transcribing Greek and Latin MSS. Not only the classics, but 
ecclesiastical and mediaeval authors, as well as the Italian poets and humanists 
were represented* in his library, which contained 792 MSS. Ultimately the 
collection was sent to Rome, where it forms part of the Vatican Library. 

Note 29, page 9. Born in 1422, Duke Federico was in fact sixty years old 
when he died. 

Note 30, page 9. In his Latin epistle to Henry VII of England, Castiglione 
says that Duke Guidobaldo began to be afflicted with gout at the age of twenty- 
one years. 

Note 31, page 10. ALFONSO II of Naples, (born 1448; died 1495), was the 
eldest son of Ferdinand I and Isabelle de Clermont. As Duke of Calabria, 
commanding the papal forces, he defeated the Florentine league in 1479, and 
in 1481 drove the Turks out of southern Italy. On his father's death in 1494, 
he succeeded to the crown of Naples; but having rendered himself obnoxious 
to his subjects, he abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand just before the 
arrival of Charles VIII of France, and took refuge in a Sicilian convent, where 
he soon died, tortured by remorse for the hideous cruelties that he had perpe- 
trated. His wife was Ippolita Maria, daughter of the first Sforza duke of 
Milan; while his daughter Isabella's marriage to Giangaleazzo Sforza, the 
rightful duke, and the usurpation of the latter's uncle Ludovico "il Moro" 
(see note 302), became the immediate cause of the first French invasion of 
Italy by Charles VIII. 

Note 32, page 10. Ferdinand II of Naples, (born 1469; died childless 1496), 
made a gallant but vain stand against the French, and retired to Ischia with 
his youthful wife-aunt Joanna. W^hen Charles VIII evacuated Naples after a 
stay of only fifty days, Ferdinand was soon able, with the help of his cousin 
Ferdinand the Catholic's famous general Consalvo de Cordova, to regain his 

327 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

dominions, but died a few weeks later. He seems to have had no lack of cour- 
age; by his mere presence he once overawed a mob at Naples, and he was 
beloved by the nation in spite of the odious tyranny of his father and grand- 
father. 

Note 33, page lo. Pope Alexander VI, (born 1431 ; died 1503), was Roderigo, 
the son of Giuffredo (or Alfonso) Lenzuoli and Juana (or Isabella) Borgia, a 
sister of Pope Calixtus III, by whom the youth was adopted and whose sur- 
name he assumed. He was elected pope in 1492 through bribery, and while 
striving to increase the temporal power of the Church, directed his chief efforts 
towards the establishment of a great hereditary dominion for his family. Of 
his five children, two (Cesare and Lucrezia) played important parts in his plan. 
In 1495 he joined the league which forced Charles VIII to retire from Italy, 
although it had been partly at his instigation that the French invaded the 
peninsula. In 1498 Savonarola was burned at Florence by his orders. In 
1501 he instituted the ecclesiastical censorship of books. He is believed to 
have died from accidentally taking a poison designed by him for a rich cardi- 
nal whose possessions he wished to seize. His private life ^as disgraced by 
orgies, of which the details are unfit for repetition. His contemporary Machia- 
velli says: "His entire occupation, his only thought, was deception, and he 
always found victims. Never was there a man with more effrontery in asser- 
tion, more ready to add oaths to his promises, or to break them." While Sis- 
mondi terms him "the most odious, the most publicly scandalous, and the 
most wicked of all the miscreants who ever misused sacred authority to out- 
rage and degrade mankind." 

Note 34, page 10. Pope JULIUS II, (born 1443; died 1513), was Giuliano, the 
second son of Raffaele della Rovere (only brother of Pope Sixtus IV) and Teo- 
dora Menerola. Made a cardinal soon after his uncle's election, he was loaded 
with sees and offices, including the legateship of Picene and Avignon, which 
latter occasioned his prolonged absence from Italy and afforded him an escape 
from the wiles of his inveterate enemy Alexander VI. The outrages with 
which Alexander sought to punish his sturdy opposition to the scandals of the 
Borgian court, aroused in him a fierceness of spirit that was alien to the seem- 
ing mildness of his early character and became the bane of his own pontificate. 
His younger brother Giovanni married a sister of Duke Guidobaldo, a union 
that cemented the friendship between the two families and furnished the 
Duchy of Urbino an heir in the person of Francesco Maria della Rovere. 
When Julius engaged Michelangelo to design his tomb, the old basilica of St. 
Peter's was found too small to contain it, whereupon the pontiff is said to have 
decreed that a new church be built to receive it, and blessed the laying of the 
first stone shortly before setting out on his campaign against Bologna in 1506. 
In 1508 he formed the League of Cambray for the recovery of certain papal 
fiefs appropriated by Venice at the time of Cesare Borgia's downfall, and in 
1511 the so-called Holy League for the expulsion of the French from Italy. 
Italian unity was the unavowed but real goal at which his policy aimed. 

328 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Although a munificent patron of art and letters, Julius was frugal and severe, 
— a man of action rather than a scholar or theologian. In giving Michelangelo 
directions for the huge bronze statue at Bologna, he said: " Put a sword in my 
hand; of letters I know nothing." Another of his reported sayings is: "If we 
are not ourselves pious, why should we prevent others from being so?" 

Note 35, page lo. Although unexpressed in the original, the word 'learned' 
seems necessary to complete the obvious meaning of the passage. 

From his tutor Odasio of Padua, we learn that in his boyhood Guidobaldo 
was even for the time exceptionally fond of study. He could repeat whole 
treatises by heart ten years after reading them, and never forgot what he 
resolved to retain. Besides his classical attainments, he appreciated the 
Italian poets, and showed peculiar aptitude for philosophy and history. 

Note 36, page 10. The Italian piacenolezsa conveys somewhat the same 
suggestion of humour which the word 'pleasantness' carried with it to the 
English of Elizabeth's time, and which still survives in our ' pleasantry.' 

Note 37, page 11. Emilia Pia, (died 1528), was the youngest daughter of 
Marco Pio, one of the lords of Carpi. Her brother Giberto married a natural 
daughter of Cardinal Ippolito d'Este (see note 64), while her cousin Alberto 
Pio (1475-1530) was the pupil and became the patron and financial supporter 
of the scholar-printer Aldus Manutius. In 1487 she was married very young 
to the studious Count Antonio di Montefeltro (a natural half-brother of Duke 
Guidobaldo), who left her a widow in 1500. She resided at Urbino and became 
the trusted and inseparable companion of the Duchess Elisabetta, whom she 
accompanied on journeys and in exile, ever faithful in misfortune and sorrow. 
In the duchess's testament she was named as legatee and executrix. She 
seems to have died .without the sacraments of the Church, while discussing 
passages of the newly published Courtier with Count Ludovico Canossa. 
The part taken by her in these dialogues evinces the charm of her winning 
manners as well as her possession of a variety of knowledge and graceful accom- 
plishment rare even in that age of womanly genius. Always ready to lead or 
second the learned and sportive pastimes by which the court circle of Urbino 
gave zest to their intercourse and polish to their wit, she was of infinite service 
to the duchess, whose own acquirements were of a less brilliant kind. 

Note 38, page 11. It may be doubted whether the duchess's influence always 
availed to secure what we should now regard as decorous behaviour at her 
court, and in an earlier draft of The Courtier Castiglione allowed himself a 
freedom, not to say licence, of expression singularly in contrast with the general 
tone of the version published. 

Note 39, page 12. The duchess and her husband were expelled from their 
dominions by Cesare Borgia in 1502, and again in 1516 she was compelled to 
leave Urbino for a longer time, when Leo X seized the duchy for his nephew 

329 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Lorenzo de' Medici. Her conduct on these occasions showed rare fortitude 
and dignity. 

Note 40, page 12. These devices, so much in vogue during the i6th century 
in Italy, were the "inventions" which Giovio (a contemporary writer upon the 
subject) says "the great lords and noble cavaliers of our time like to wear on 
their armour, caparisons and banners, to signify a part of their generous 
thoughts." They consisted of a figure or picture, and a motto nearly always 
in Latin. The fashion is said to have been copied from the French at the time 
of the invasions of Charles VIII and Louis XII. 

Note 41, page 12. Federico FregoSO, (born 1480; died 1541), was a younger 
brother of Ottaviano (see note 11), and was educated for holy orders under the 
direction of his uncle Duke Guidobaldo, at whose court he also perfected him- 
self in worldly accomplishments. In 1507 Julius II made him Archbishop of 
Salerno, in the kingdom of Naples, but, owing to his supposed French sympa- 
thies, he was not allowed to enjoy this benefice, and the next year was put in 
charge of the bishopric of Gubbio. In the same year he was sent by Julius 
with the latter's physician to attend Duke Guidobaldo's death-bed, but arrived 
too late. During the nine years that followed his brother's election as Doge 
of Genoa (1513), he by turns commanded the army of the Republic, led her fleet 
against the Barbary pirates (whom he routed in their own harbours), and rep- 
resented her at the papal court. During the Spanish siege of Genoa in 1522, 
he escaped to France, was warmly received by Francis I, and made Abbot of St. 
B^nigne at Dijon, where he devoted himself to theological study. In 1528 he 
returned to Italy and was appointed to the see of Gubbio. His piety and zeal 
for the welfare of his flock won for him the title of "father to the poor and refuge of 
the distressed." In 1539 he was made a cardinal, and two years later died at 
Gubbio, being succeeded in that see by his friend Bembo. After his death, a 
discourse of his on prayer happening to be reprinted together with a work by 
Luther, he was for a time erroneously supposed to have been heretical. He 
was a profound student of Hebrew, and an appreciative collector of Provencal 
poetry. His own writings are chiefly doctrinal, and his reputation rests rather 
upon his friends' praise of his wit, gentleness, personal accomplishments and 
learning, than upon the present value of his extant works. 

Note 42, page 12. Pietro Bembo, (born at Venice 1470; died at Rome 1547), 
was the son of a noble Venetian, Bernardo Bembo (a man of much cultivation, 
who paid for the restoration of Dante's tomb at Ravenna), and Elena Marcella. 
Having received his early education at Florence, where his father was Vene- 
tian ambassador, he studied Greek at Messina under Lascaris (a native of 
Hellas, whose grammar of that tongue was the first Greek book ever printed, 
1476), and philosophy at Padua and Ferrara, where his father was Venetian 
envoy and introduced him to the Este court. Here he became acquainted 
with Lucrezia Borgia, who had recently wedded Duke Ercole's son Alfonso, 
and to whom he dedicated his dialogues on love, Gli Asolani. By some 

330 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

writers indeed he is said to have been her lover, but the report is hardly con- 
firmed by the character of the letters exchanged between the two, 1503-1516. 
Having been entertained at Urbino in 1505, he spent the larger part of the next 
six years at that court, where he profited by the fine library, delighted in many 
congenial spirits, and became the close friend of Giuliano de' Medici, who took 
him to Rome in 1512 and recommended him to the future pope, Leo X. On 
attaining the tiara, Leo at once appointed him and his friend Sadoleto (see 
note 242) papal secretaries, an office for which his learning and courtly accom- 
plishments well fitted him. His laxity of morals and his paganism were no 
disqualification in the eyes of the pope, whom he served also in several diplo- 
matic missions, and from whom he received benefices and pensions sufficient 
to enrich him for life. In 1518 his friend Castiglione sent him the MS. of The 
Courtier, requesting him to "take the trouble ... to read it either -wholly 
or in part," and to give his opinion of it. Ten years later, when the book was 
printed, it was Bembo to whom the proofs were sent for correction, the author 
being absent in Spain. Even before the death of Leo X in 1521, Bembo had 
entered upon a life of literary retirement at Padua, where his library and art 
collection, as well as the learned society that he drew about him, rendered his 
house famous. Nor was it less esteemed by reason of the presence, at its head, 
of an avowed mistress (Morosina), who bore him several children. After her 
death, he devoted himself to theology, entered holy orders, reluctantly accepted 
a cardinal's hat in 1539, and in 1541 succeeded his friend Fregoso in the bish- 
opric of Gubbio, to which was added that of Bergamo. His death was occa- 
sioned by a fall from his horse, and he was buried at Rcime in the Minerva 
church, between his patrons Leo X and Clement VII. His works are note- 
worthy less for their substance than for the refining influence exerted by their 
form. He is said to have subjected all his writings to sixteen (some say forty) 
separate revisions, and a legend survives to the eff"ect that he advised a young 
cleric (Sadoleto) to avoid reading the Epistles of St. Paul, lest they might mar 
the youth's style. His numerous private and official letters have preserved 
many valuable facts and furnish interesting illustration of contemporary man- 
ners and character. Humboldt praises him as the first Italian author to write 
attractive descriptions of natural scenery, and cites especially his dialogue 
on Mt. iEtna. 

Note 43, page 12. Cesare Gonzaga, (born about 1475; died 1512), was a 
native of Mantua, being descended from a younger branch of the ruling family 
of that city, and a cousin of Castiglione, with whom he maintained a close 
friendship. His father's name was Giampietro, and he had a brother Luigi. 
Having received a courtly and martial education at Milan, and after spending 
some time with his relatives at Mantua, he entered the service of Duke Guido- 
baldo of Urbino. In 1504 he shared Castiglione's lodgings after their return 
from a campaign against Cesare Borgia's strongholds in Romagna, and in the 
carnival of 1506 they together recited Castiglione's eclogue Tirsi, in the author- 
ship of which he is by some credited with a part. A graceful canzonet, pre- 
served in Atanagi's Rime Scelte, attests his skill in versification. On Guido< 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

baldo's death in 1508, the two friends remained in the service of the new duke, 
Francesco Maria. In 1511 Cesare fought bravely against the French at Miran- 
dola, and the next year took part in the reduction of Bologna, where he soon 
died of an acute fever. Little more is known of him, beyond the fact that he 
was a knight of St. John of Jerusalem, that Leo X sent him on a mission to 
Charles V of Spain, and that he was among the many friends of the famous 
Isabella d'Este (see note 397). 

Note 44, page 12. Count LUDOVICO DA Canossa, (born 1476; died 1532), be- 
longed to a noble Veronese family (still honourably extant), and was a 
close friend of Castiglione and a cousin of the latter's mother. His boyhood 
was passed at Mantua, and his happiest years at Urbino, where he was re- 
ceived in 1496. In the pontificate of Julius II he went to Rome, and was made 
Bishop of Tricarico, in southern Italy, 1511. Under Leo X he was entrusted 
with several embassies, one of which (1514) was to England to reconcile Henry 
VIII with Louis XII, and another (1515) was to the new French king, Francis 
I, at whose court he continued to reside, and through whose influence he was 
made Bishop of Bayeux in 1516. In 1526 and 1527 he served as French ambas- 
sador to Venice. His ability and zeal as a diplomatist are shown not only 
by the importance of the posts that he held, but by his numerous letters that 
have been preserved. At the time of his friend Bibbiena's death in 1520, 
Canossa remarked that it was a fixed belief among the French that every man 
of rank who died in Italy was poisoned. 

Note 45, page 12. Gaspar Pallavicino, (born i486; died 1511), was a de- 
scendant of the marquesses of Cortemaggiore, near Piacenza. He appears in 
The Courtier as the youthful woman-hater of the company, and was a 
friend of Castiglione and Bembo. For an interesting discussion of his rfile in 
the dialogues, see Miss Scott's paper, cited above (page 316). 

Note 46, page 12. LuDOViCO Pio belonged to the famous family of the lords 
of Carpi (a few miles north of Modena), and was a brave captain in the service 
of the Aragonese princes, of Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan, and of Pope 
Julius II. His father Leonello and more celebrated uncle Alberto had been 
pupils of Aldus, and were second cousins of Emilia Pia. His wife was the 
beautiful Graziosa Maggi of Milan, who is immortalized in the paintings of 
Francia and the writings of Bembo. 

Note 47, page 12. Sigismondo Morello da Ortona is presented in The 
Courtier as the only elderly member of the company, and the object of many 
youthful jests. He is known to have taken part in the ceremony of the formal 
adoption of Francesco Maria della Rovere as heir to the duchy in 1504, is 
referred to in Castiglione's Tirsi, and seems to have been something of a 
musician. 

Note 4S, page 12. Of ROBERTO DA BARI little more is known than that his 

33a 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

surname was MASSIMO, and that he was taken ill in the campaign of 1510 
against the Venetians and retired to Mantua. Thither Castiglione sent a letter 
to his mother, warmly recommending Roberto to her hospitality, and saying 
that he loved the man like a brother. 

Note 49, page 12. BERNARDO ACCOLTI, (born about 1465; died 1535), was 
generally known as the Unico Aretino, from the name of his birthplace 
(Arezzo) and in compliment to his ' unique ' faculty for extemporising verse. 
His father Benedetto was a jurist, and the author of a dull Latin history of the 
First Crusade, from which Tasso is believed to have drawn material for the 
Gerusaletnme Liberata. His poetical celebrity commended him to the court 
of Urbino, where (as at Rome and in other places) he was in the habit of recit- 
ing his verses to vast audiences of rich and poor alike. When an exhibition 
by him was announced, guards had to be set to restrain the crowds that rushed 
to secure places, the shops were closed, and the streets emptied. His life was 
a kind of lucrative poetic vagabondage: thus we find him flourishing, caressed 
and applauded, at the courts of Urbino, Mantua, Naples, and especially at that 
of Leo X, who bestowed many offices upon him, of which, however, his wealth 
(acquired by his recitations) rendered him independent, enabling him to in- 
dulge in a life of literary ease. His elder brother Pietro became a cardinal, 
bought Raphael's house, and is said to have had a hand in drafting the papal 
bull against Luther in 1520. He was an early patron of his notorious 
fellow-townsman Pietro Aretino. Such of his verse as has survived is 
so bald and stilted as to excite no little wonderment at the esteem which he 
enjoyed among his contemporaries. In The Courtier he poses as the senti- 
mental and afflicted lover, the "slayer" of duchesses and other noble ladies, 
who (according to his own account) kept flocking in his train, but who more 
probably were often making sport of him. 

Note 50, page 12. Giancristoforo Romano, (born about 1465; died 1512), 
was the son of Isaia di Pippo of Pisa and the pupil of Paolo Romano. Per- 
haps best known as a sculptor, he possessed skill also as a goldsmith, medallist, 
architect and crystal carver, cultivated music and wrote verse. During the 
last years of the Sforza power at Milan, he accompanied the duke's wife, 
Beatrice d'Este, from place to place, and is now identified as the author of 
her portrait bust in the Louvre. He executed also at least two portrait 
medals of her sister Isabella d'Este, acted as adviser and agent of the Gonza- 
gas in the purchase of art objects, worked at Venice, Cremona, Rome and 
Naples, and is known to have been at Urbino about the time of the Courtier 
dialogues. In a long letter written by him to Bembo in 1510, he describes the 
court of Urbino as "a true temple of chastity, decorum and pudicity." In 
1512 he was directing architect at Loreto (see note 311), where he died in May, 
bequeathing his collection of medals and antiques to a hospital, for the pur- 
pose of having three masses said weekly for the repose of his soul. 

Note 51, page 12. Of Pietro Monte little more is known than that he was 
333 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

a master of military exercises at the Urbino court, and perhaps a captain in 
the duke's army. He may have been identical with one Pietro dal Monte, who 
is mentioned as a soldier in the pay of Venice (1509), and described as "blind 
in one eye, but of great valour, gentle speech, and not unlearned in letters," 
and as " commanding 1500 infantry, and a man of great experience not only in 
war but in affairs of the world." 

Note 52, page 12. ANTONIO Maria Terpandro, one of the most jovial and 
ivelcome visitors at Urbino, is said by Dennistoun to have been a musical 
ornament of the court He enjoyed the heartiest friendship of Bembo and 
Bibbiena. 

Note 53, page 12. NiCCOLb Frisio or Frigio is mentioned in a letter by 
Bembo as a German, but seems more probably to have been an Italian. Den- 
nistoun speaks of him as a musician. In a letter from Castiglione to his 
mother {1506), the writer warmly commends to her "one messer Niccol6 
Frisio, who I hear is there [i.e., in Mantua], and I earnestly hope that you will 
treat him kindly, for I am under the greatest obligation to him with respect to 
my Roman illness. . . I am sure he loves me well." In another letter by a 
friend of Bembo, Frisio is described (1509) as an Italian long resident in courts, 
sure of heart, gentle, a good linguist, faithful to his employers, and as having 
been used by Julius II in negotiating the League of Cambray against Venice. 
He had relations also with the marchioness Isabella of Mantua (see note 397), 
whom he aided in the collection of antiquities. Growing weary of worldly 
life, he became a monk in 1510, and retired to the Certosa of Naples. 

Note 54, page 12. According to Cian, omini piacevoli (rendered 'agreeable 
men') here means 'buffoons.' 

Note 55, page 13. This passage establishes the date of the first dialogue as 
8 March 1507. 

Note 56, page 13. My lady Emilia contends that she has already told her 
choice of a game, in proposing that the rest of the company should tell theirs. 

Note 57, page 14. COSTANZA Fregosa was a sister of the two Fregoso 
brothers already mentioned, and a faithful companion of the Duchess of 
Urbino. She married Count Marcantonio Landi of Piacenza, and bore him 
two worthy children, Agostino and Caterina, to the former of whom Bembo 
stood sponsor and became a kind of second father. Three letters by the lady 
have been preserved. 

Note 58, page 15. Belief in the efficacy ot music as a cure for the bite of the 
tarantula still survives in Andalusia, Sardinia and parts of southern Italy. In 
a note on the tarantella dance, Goethe wrote: "It has been remarked that in 
the case of mental ailments, and of a tarantula bite, which is probably cured 

334 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

by perspiration, the movements of this dance have a very salutary effect on 
the softer sex." "Travels in Italy" (Ed. Bohn, 1883), page 564. 

Note 59, page 15. The moresca (mime or morris-dance) seems to have been 
a kind of ballet or story in dance, often very intricate and fanciful. At the 
courts of this period, it was generally introduced as an interlude between 
the acts of a comedy. In a letter quoted by Dennistoun (" Memoirs of the 
Dukes of Urbino," ii, 141), Castiglione describes a moresca on the story of 
Jason, which was thus performed at the first presentation of Bibbiena's 
Calandra before the court of Urbino, 6 February 1513. 

Note 60, page 16. Fra Mariano Fetti, (born 1460; died 1531), was a native 
of Florence, and beginning life as a barber to Lorenzo de' Medici, always re- 
mained faithful to that family. At Rome, during the pontificate of Julius II, 
he won the reputation and enjoyed the privileges of "the prince of jesters," 
and became even more famous under Leo X, upon whom as a child he had 
bestowed affectionate care, and who as pope did not forget his kindness. 
Thus in 1514 he was made Frate piombatore, or affixer of lead seals to papal 
bulls, in which office he followed the architect Bramante, was succeeded by 
the painter Sebastiano Luciani (better known as "del Piombo"), and admitted 
earning yearly what would now be the equivalent of about £'1600, by turning 
lead into gold. While it remains uncertain whether he was more buffoon or 
friar, he had a great love for artists, and even composed verse. He seems to 
have continued in the enjoyment of fame and favour during the reign of the 
second Medicean pope, Clement VII. 

Note 61, page 16. Fra Serafino was probably a Mantuan, and had a bro- 
ther Sebastiano. He lived long at the Gonzaga court, where he was employed 
in organizing festivals, and at Urbino, where the few of his letters that have 
survived show him in familiar relations with other interlocutors in THE 
Courtier. While at Rome in 1507, with the suite of the Duchess of Urbino, 
he was seriously wounded in the head by an unknown assailant, probably in 
return for some lampoon or scandal of his against the papal court. 

Note 62, page 17. This letter S vvas evidently one of the golden ciphers that_ 
^adies of th e period were fogd pf wcjaring on a circlet about their heads. In 
her portrait the duchess is represented as wearing a narrow band, from which 
the image of a scorpion hangs upon her forehead. The S may have been used 
on this occasion as the initial letter of the wprd.j§corpion, and seems in any 
case to have been an instance of the 'devices' mentioned in note 40. 

A sonnet, purporting to be the work of the Unico Aretino, was inserted in 
the edition of The Courtier published by Rovillio at Lyons in 1562 and 
in several later editions, as being the sonnet here mentioned. In its place, 
however, Cian prints another sonnet, preserved in the Marciana Library at 
Venice and possessing higher claims to authenticity. Some idea of the bald- 
ness of both may be gained from the following crude but tolerably literal 
translation of the second sonnet: 

335 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Consent, O Sea of beauty and virtue, 
That 1, thy slave, may of great doubt be freed, 
Whether th e S t hou wearest on thy candid brow 
Signifies my Suffering or my^Sglvation, 
^■^^hether it means ^Succour or Servitude, 
Suspicion or Security, Secret or Silliness, 
tN^hether 'Spectation or Shriek, whether Safe or Sepultured! 
Whether my bonds be Strait or Severed : 

For much I fear lest it give Sign 
Of Stateliness, Sighing, Severity, 
Scorn, Slash, Sweat, Stress and Spite. 

But if for naked truth a place there be, 

his S shows with no little art 

Sun single in beauty and in cruelty. 



r 



Note 63, page 18. The pains of love were a frequent theme with Bembo, 
and are elaborately set forth in his Gli Asolani. Quite untranslatable into 
English, his play upon the words amove (love) and amaro (bitter) is at least as 
old as Plautus's Trinummns. 

Note 64, page 22. Ippolito D'Este, (born 1479; died 1520), was the third 
son of Duke Ercole I of Ferrara (see note 203) and Eleanora of Aragon (see 
note 399). At the instance of his maternal aunt Beatrice's husband, King 
Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (see note 395), he was given the rich archbish- 
opric of Strigonio, to which was attached the primacy of that country, and 
made the journey thither as a mere boy. In 1493 Alexander VI made him a 
cardinal. Soon after the death of his sister Beatrice, her husband Duke 
Ludovico Sforza of Milan gave him the vacant archbishopric of that city, and 
the same year (1497) he exchanged the Hungarian primacy, with its burden- 
some requirement of foreign residence, for the bishopric of Agria in Crete. 
In 1502 he was made Archbishop of Capua in the kingdom of Naples, but 
bestowed the revenues of the see upon his widowed and impoverished aunt, 
the ex-Queen of Hungary, and a little later was made Bishop of Ferrara, — all 
before reaching the age of twenty-four years. He was also Bishop of Modena 
and Abbot of Pomposa. During his brother's reign at Ferrara, the young 
cardinal took an active part in public affairs, several times governing in 
the duke's absence, and showing brilliant capacities for military command. 
After the accession of Leo X, he resided chiefly at Rome, where he was always 
a conspicuous figure and carefully guarded his brother's interests. He was a 
friend and protector of Leonardo da Vinci, and maintained Ariosto in his ser- 
vice from 1503 to 1517. A prelate only in name, regarding his many ecclesi- 
astical offices merely as a source of wealth, he united the faults and vices to 
the grace and culture of his time. 

Note 65, page 26. Berto was probably one of the many buffoons about the 
papal court in the time of Julius II and Leo X. He is again mentioned in 
the text (page 128) for his powers of mimicry, etc. 

Note 66, page 26. This "brave lady" is by some identified as the famous 

336 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Caterina Sforza, a natural daughter of Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan, 
who by the last of her three husbands became the mother of the even more 
famous condottiere Giovanni de' Medici delle Bande Nere. She was born in 
1462, and died in 1509 after a life of singular vicissitudes. For an extraordinary 
story of her courage, see Dennistoun's " Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino," 
i, 292. 

The " one whom I will not name at present " is supposed to have been a 
certain brave soldier of fortune, Caspar Sanseverino, who is often mentioned 
as "Captain Fracassa," and was a brother of the Galeazzo Sanseverino who 
appears a little later in The COURTIER (see page 34 and note 72). 

Note 67, page 28. The philosopher in question has been variously identified 
as Democritus and Empedocles. 

Note 68, page 30. In Charles V's romantic plan for deciding by single com- 
bat his rivalry with Francis I, Castiglione was selected as his second, but de- 
clined to violate diplomatic proprieties by accepting the oifer, — being at the 
time papal envoy at Charles's court. 

Note 69, page 31. Strictly speaking, the joust was a single contest between 
man and man, while the tourney was a sham battle between two squadrons. 
Stick-throwing seems to have been an equestrian game introduced by the 
Moors into Spain, and by the Spaniards into Italy. In the carnival of 1519 it 
was played by two companies in the Piazza of St. Peter's before Leo X. 

Note 70, page 31. Vaulting on horse seems to have included some of the 
feats of agility with which modern circus riders have familiarized us. 

Note 71, page 33. "Finds grace," i.e. favour: literally "is grateful" (grata) 
in the sense of acceptable or pleasing. Compare the familiar phrase persona 
grata. 

Note 72, page 34. GALEAZZO SANSEVERINO was one of the twelve stalwart 
sons of Roberto Sanseverino, a brave condottiere who aided to place Ludo- 
vico Sforza in power at Milan, rebelled against that prince, and was slain 
while fighting for the Venetians in i486. Galeazzo entered the service of 
Ludovico, whose favour had been attracted by his personal charm, literary 
accomplishments and rare skill in knightly exercises. ^A^hen he married his 
patron's natural daughter Bianca, in 1489, Leonardo da Vinci arranged the 
jousts held in honour of the wedding. Thenceforth he adopted the names 
Visconti and Sforza, and was treated as a member of the ducal family. In 
1496, at the head of the Milanese forces, he besieged the Duke of Orleans 
(afterwards Louis XII) at Novara, but in 1500 he was captured by the French, 
and after the final downfall of Ludovico (to whom he seems to have remained 
creditably loyal) he entered the service of Louis XII, who made him Grand 
Equerry in 1506. The duties of his office included the superintendence of all 

337 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the royal stables and of an academy for the martial education of young men 
of noble family. For a further account of his interesting life, and especially 
of his friendship with Isabella d'Este, see Mrs. Henry Ady's recent volume, 
" Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan." 

Note 73, page 35. The word spresaatura (rendered "nonchalance") could 
hardly have been new to Castiglione's contemporaries, at least in its primary 
meaning of disprizement or contempt. He may, however, have been among 
the first to use it (as here and elsewhere in The Courtier) in its modified 
sense of unconcern or nonchalance. Compare Herrick's 'wild civility' in "Art 
above Nature" and "Delight in Disorder." 

Note 74, page 37. Naturally Venice could hardly be a place well suited for 
horsemanship; its citizens' awkward riding was a favourite subject of ridicule 
in the i6th century. 

Note 75, page 37. The incident is supposed to have occurred on the occasion 
of a visit paid by Apelles to Rhodes not long after the death (323 B.C.) of Alex- 
ander the Great, whom he had accompanied into Asia Minor. Apelles was 
eager to meet Protogenes, and on landing in Rhodes went at once to the 
painter's house. Protogenes was absent, but a large panel stood ready for 
painting. Apelles took a pencil and drew an exceedingly fine coloured line, 
by which Protogenes on his return immediately recognized who his visitor 
had been, and in turn drew a finer line of another colour upon or within the 
first line. When Apelles saw this line, he added a third line still further sub- 
dividing the one drawn by Protogenes. Later the panel was carried to Rome, 
where it long excited wondering admiration in the Palace of the Caesars, with 
which it was finally destroyed by fire. Apelles was the first to stimulate 
appreciation of the merits of Protogenes by buying several of the latter's works 
at enormous prices: he maintained however that he excelled Protogenes in 
knowing when to cease elaborating his paintings. 

Note 76, page 37. The play upon words here is untranslatable into English. 
The Italian tavola stands equally well for a dining-table and for the tablet or 
panel upon which pictures were painted. 

Note 77, page 40. ' As those who speak [are present] before those who speak ' 
is a literal translation of the accepted reading of this passage. It is perhaps 
worth noting, however, that the earliest translator (Boscan) ventures to de- 
viate from the letter of the Italian text for the sake of rendering what surely 
must have been the author's meaning: cotno los que hablan d aquellos con qtiien 
hablan, i.e. "as those who speak [are present] before those with whom they 
speak." 

Note 78, page 41. Although the dialect of Bergamo was (and still is) ridi- 
culed as rude and harsh, it possessed a copious popular literature. 

338 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 79, page 41. FRANCESCO Petrarca or Petrarch, (born 1304; died 
1374)1 belonged to a family that was banished from Florence at the same time 
with Dante, whom he remembered seeing in his childhood. He was the first 
Italian of his time to appreciate the value of public libraries, to collect coins 
and inscriptions as sources of accurate historical information, and to urge the 
preservation of ancient monuments. Had he never written a line of verse, he 
would still be venerated as the apostle of scholarship, as the chief originator 
of humanistic impulses based upon what Symonds describes as " a new and 
vital perception of the dignity of man considered as a rational being apart from 
theological determinations, and . . . the further perception that classic litera- 
ture alone displayed human nature in the plenitude of intellectual and moral 
freedom." 

Note 80, page 41. In an age when grammatical and rhetorical treatises, in 
the modern sense of the word, hardly existed, it was natural that the study of 
classic models should take the form of imitation. 

Note 81, page 42. It will be remembered that Giuliano de' Medici was a 
native Tuscan. 

Note 82, page 43. This Tuscan triumvirate was called "the three Floren- 
tine crowns:" Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. 

Note 83, page 44. EVANDER was a mythical son of Hermes, supposed to 
have founded a colony on the Tiber before the Trojan War. TURNUS was a 
legendary king of an Italian tribe, who was slain by ^ffineas. 

Note 84, page 44. The Salian priests were attached to the worship of Mars 
Gradivus. On the occasion of their annual festival, they went in procession 
through Rome, carrying the sacred shields of which they were custodians 
and which they beat in accompaniment to dance and song. The words of 
their chaunts are said to have become unintelligible even to themselves, and 
appear to have set forth a kind of theogony in praise of all the celestial deities 
(excepting Venus), and especially of one Mamurius Veturius, who is by some 
regarded as identical with Mars. 

Note 85, page 44. Marcus Antonius (143-87 B.C.) and LICINIUS Crassus 
(14&-91 B.C.), the two most famous orators of early Rome, were regarded by 
Cicero as having been the first to rival their Greek predecessors. QuiNTUS 
HORTENSIUS Hortalus (114-50 B.C.), the great advocate of the aristocratic 
party at Rome, yielded the palm of oratory only to Cicero (106-43 B.C.). 
Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 B.C.), a Roman soldier, author and reform- 
ing statesman, sought to restore the ancient purity and simplicity of the 
earlier republic. QuiNTUS Ennius (239-169 B.C.), a Roman epic poet and 
annalist, imparted to the language and literature of his nation much of the 
impulse that affected their growth for centuries. ViRGIL was born 70 B.C., 
and died 19 B.C. 

339 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 86, page 44. Horace was born 65 B.C., and died 8 B.C. Plautus 
died 184 B.C. 

Note 87, page 44. Sergius Sulpicius Galea was Roman Consul 144 B.C.; 
Cicero praised his oratory, but found it more old-fashioned than that of 
Laelius {flor. 200 B.C.) and Scipio Africanus the Younger (died 129 B.C.). 

Note 88, page 46. In his Prose, Bembo says that courtly Italian, especially 
during the pontificate of the Spaniard, Alexander VI (1492-1503), was full of 
Spanish expressions, — an assertion amply confirmed by contemporary letters, 
which are rich also in Gallicisms. 

Note 89, page 46. The Spanish primor has failed to win Italian citizenship. 
Aaenturare has become naturalized in Italy; as also have acertare (in the 
sense, however, of to assure, to make certain, to verify), ripassare (to repass, 
to repeat, to rebuff), rimproccio or rimprovero, and attilato or attillato, which 
is recognizable in the Spanish atildado. Creato (Spanish criado) is now re- 
placed by creatura in the sense mentioned in the text; in Sicily creato is used 
to mean servant. 

Note 90, page 47. The reference here is of course to the Attic, Doric, Ionic 
and ^olic dialects. 

Note 91, page 47. TiTUS LIVIUS was born at Padua 59 B.C., and died there 
17 A.D. Of the one hundred and forty-two books of his History (which cov- 
ered the period from the founding of Rome in 750 B.C. down to 9 B.C., and upon 
which he spent forty years of his life), only thirty-five have survived, together 
with an anonymous summary of the whole. 

Note 92, page 48. Of the four forms here condemned by Castiglione as cor- 
rupt, three {Campidoglio , Girolamo, and padrone) have become firmly estab- 
lished in Italian. Campidoglio had been used by Petrarch {Trionfo d'Amore, 
i, 14), — an "old" but certainly not an "ignorant" Tuscan. 

Note 93, page 49. Oscan was a pre-Roman language spoken by the Opici, 
an Italian tribe inhabiting the Campanian coast. Much of the mist that 
shrouded it for centuries has now been dispelled by the epigraphists. Both 
Dante and Petrarch were great lovers of Proven9al, with which in Castiglione's 
time his friend Federico Fregoso was familiar. 

Note 94, page 50. BiDON was a native of Asti, and one of the most famous 
choristers in the service of Leo X. 

Note 95, page 50. Marchetto Cara, a native of Verona, entered the service 
of the Gonzagas in 1495 and lived nearly thirty years at Mantua, where he 
was made a citizen by the Marquess Federico. He frequented also the court 

340 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of Urbino, and is known to have been sent by the Marchioness Isabella to re- 
lieve the tedium of her friend and sister-in-law the Duchess Elisabetta's exile 
at Venice in 1503. In his time he was among the most prolific and successful 
composers of profane music, especially of ballads and madrigals, and a num- 
ber of his popular pieces have been preserved. 

Note 96, page 50. LEONARDO DA ViNCI, (born 1452; died 1519), was the 
natural son of a notary, Pietro Antonio, of the village of Vinci, situated about 
fourteen miles east of Florence. He studied some three years with Donatello's 
pupil Verocchio at Florence. Meeting small pecuniary success there, he re- 
moved to Milan about 1483 and entered the service of Duke Ludovico Sforza, 
who is said to have paid him the equivalent of ;f4000 a year while painting 
the "Last Supper," and for whom he completed in 1493 the model of a co- 
lossal equestrian statue of Duke Francesco Sforza, never executed in perma- 
nent form. He was employed by Cesare Borgia as military engineer, and in 
that capacity visited Urbino in July 1502. His famous portrait known as the 
" Monna Lisa " or " La Gioconda," upon which he worked at times for four years, 
was finished about 1504 and afterwards sold by him to Francis I. In 1507, he 
had been appointed painter to Louis XII, but did not visit France until 1516. 
On the election of Leo X in 1513, he journeyed to Rome in the company and 
service of Giuliano de' Medici, who paid him a monthly stipend of £'66. Al- 
though he was received with favour by the new pope and lodged in the Vati- 
can, his stay in Rome was artistically unprolific, his interest at the time being 
chiefly confined to chemistry and physics, and nature attracting him more 
than antiquities, of which he spoke as "this old rubbish" {quest e ant icaglie). 
Three years before his death he was visited at Amboise in France by Cardinal 
Ludovico of Aragon, who is mentioned later in The Courtier (p. 159), and 
whose secretary left an interesting account of an interview with him, describ- 
ing the painter as then disabled by paralysis of the hand. 

Note 97, page 50. Andrea Mantegna, (born 1431; died 1506), was a native 
of Vicenza and probably of humble origin. When a mere child he became 
the pupil and adopted son of the noted painter and instructor, Francesco 
Squarcione of Padua, and was soon enrolled in the painters' guild of that city. 
In 1449 he began painting for the d'Este at Ferrara, and between 1453 and 1459 
he married Niccolosa, a daughter of Squarcione's rival Giacopo Bellini, and 
sister of the more famous brothers Gentile and Giovanni Bellini. He painted 
also at Verona, and about 1460 entered the service of the Gonzagas at Mantua, 
where the remainder of his life was chiefly spent, although he worked for Pope 
Innocent VIII at Rome about the year 1488, before which date he was knighted 
by the Marquess of Mantua. By one writer he is affirmed to have cast the 
fine bust which ornaments his tomb at Mantua, and which is said once to 
have had diamond eyes. He is known to have understood bronze casting, 
and besides the brush and the engraver's burin, he handled modelling tools, 
while a sonnet of his has been preserved. Although praised by Vasari as 
kindly and in every way estimable, he is shewn by contemporary letters to 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

have been rather irritable and litigious in private life. Albert Dvirer tells us 
that one of the keenest disappointments of his life was occasioned by the great 
painter's death before he was able to make an intended journey to Mantua for 
the purpose of visiting Mantegna. 

Note 98, page 50. Raffaello Santi or Sanzi, — euphonized by Bembo as 
Sanzio, — (born 1483; died 1520), was a native of Urbino and the son of Giovanni 
Santi and Magia Ciarla. The father was himself a painter of no mean skill, 
and wrote a quaint rhymed chronicle of the Duchy of Urbino, which is pre- 
served in the Vatican and contains much interesting information. Having lost 
both parents when he had reached the age of eleven years, and probably hav- 
ing first studied at Urbino under Timoteo della Vite, Raphael was sent by a 
maternal uncle to the studio of Perugino at Perugia. The rest of his short 
life was an unbroken course of happy labour and brilliant success. In 1499 
he seems to have been at Urbino for the purpose of arranging for the welfare 
of a sister, and again in 1504, when, after executing several works (including, 
it is believed, portraits of the duke and duchess) for the ducal family, he went 
to Florence with a letter of commendation from Guidobaldo's sister. From 
1504 to 1508 he resided chiefly at Florence, although he again visited Urbino 
twice, just before and probably soon after the date of the Courtier dialogues. 
His friendship with so many members of the Urbino court (Giuliano de' Medici, 
Bibbiena, Bembo, Canossa, and Castiglione), and even his acquaintance with 
Julius II, probably began during these later visits to his native city. In 1508 
he was called to Rome by Julius, and resided there until his death. On suc- 
ceeding Bramante as architect of St. Peter's in 1514, he wrote to Castiglione: 
"Sir Count: I have made drawings in several manners according to your sug- 
gestion, and if everyone does not flatter me, I am satisfying everyone; but I 
do not satisfy my own judgment, because I dread not satisfying yours. I am 
sending them to you. Pray choose any of them, if you deem any worthy. 
Our Lord [i.e. Leo X] in honouring me has put a great burden on my shoul- 
ders, — that is, the charge of the fabric of St. Peter's. I hope, however, not to 
fall under it; and the more so, because the model I have made for it pleases 
his Holiness and is praised by many choice spirits; but in thought I soar still 
higher. I fain would renew the beautiful forms of ancient buildings, but know 
not whether my flight will be that of Icarus. Vitruvius affords me much light 
on the subject, but less than I need. As to Galatea, I should hold myself a 
great master if she possessed half the fine things you write me; but in your 
words I recognize the love you bear me: and I tell you that to paint one beau- 
tiful woman, I should need to see several beautiful women and to have you 
with me to choose the best. But as there is dearth of good judgments and of 
beautiful women, I am using a certain idea that has occurred to my mind. 
Whether this has any artistic excellence in it, I know not, — but I am striving 
for it. Command me." Passavant affirms that the 'drawings' mentioned at 
the beginning of this letter were designs for a medal that Castiglione meant 
to wear. Raphael is said to have painted two portraits of Castiglione, one of 
which (1516) is in the Louvre and appears as the frontispiece to this volume. 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

His epitaph was written by Bembo, while Castiglione composed a Latin elegy 
in his honour. 

Note 99, page 50. MICHELANGELO BUONARROTI, (born 1475; died 1564), was 
a native of Caprese, a village about forty-seven miles south-east of Florence, 
and the son of Ludovico Buonarroti Simoni and Francesca, daughter of Neri 
del Sera. His first schoolmaster seems to have come from Urbino. Appren- 
ticed at the age of thirteen to Ghirlandajo, he soon came under the protection 
of Lorenzo de' Medici. In 1496 he removed to Rome, and remained there five 
years. From 1501 to 1504 he was working upon the great statue of David at 
Florence, and prepared his cartoon for a vast fresco on the Battle of Cascina, 
which, although never executed, was often copied, and is said to have exerted 
a greater influence on the art of the Renaissance than any other single work. 
In 1505 he was called to Rome to design a colossal mausoleum for Julius II. 
The anxieties and disappointments connected with this project became the 
continual tragedy of his long life. " Every day," he wrote, " I am stoned as if 
I had crucified Christ. My youth has been lost, bound hand and foot to this 
tomb." The matter was finally ended by the placing of his statue of Moses in 
the church of San Pietro in Vincoli at Rome. In the spring of 1506 he was 
present at the unearthing of the LaocoSn, and at the date of the Courtier dia- 
logues he was engaged in casting a great bronze statue of Julius II at Bologna. 
Duke Guidobaldo's collection at Urbino seems to have included a Cupid made 
by Buonarroti in imitation of the antique, originally owned by Cesare Borgia, 
regained by him when he captured Urbino in 1502, and soon presented by him 
to Guidobaldo's sister-in-law, the Marchioness Isabella d'Este of Mantua. 
The famous tomb statue of Giuliano de' Medici at Florence is hardly to be 
regarded as a portrait, and was of course executed long after the period of THE 
Courtier. In 1519 the Marquess of Mantua wrote to Castiglione, who was 
his ambassador at Rome, regarding a monument to his father that he hoped 
to have the master design. In 1523 Castiglione brought to Mantua a sketch 
made by Buonarroti for a villa which the marquess intended to build at 
Marmirolo. 

Note 100, page 50. Giorgio Barbarelli, known as GlORGIONE or " Big 
George," (born about 1478; died 1510), was a native of Castelfranco, a town 
about forty miles north-west of Venice, and was reputed to be a natural son 
of one Giacopo Barbarelli, a Venetian, and a peasant girl. Lack of data ren- 
ders a consecutive account of his life and work impossible. He was brought 
up in Venice, and bred as a painter in the school of the Bellini. Vasari says 
that he played upon the lute and sang well, and was of a gentle disposition. 
Although he seems to have been exceptionally independent of great people, he 
enjoyed the especial favour of the Marchioness Isabella d'Este of Mantua. In 
a letter written from Venice in the year before that of the Courtier dialogues, 
Albert Diirer declared Giorgione to be the greatest painter in the city, which 
could then boast of the Bellini, Palma Vecchio, Carpaccio and Titian. One of 
the most acute of recent critics, Mr, Bernhard Berenson, ascribes to him only 

343 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

seventeen existing pictures, of which the best known is the Fete Champdtre in 
the Louvre, while the only one whose authenticity is entirely free from doubt 
is the " Madonna and Saints" in the Duomo at Castelfranco. The Urbino col- 
lection comprised two portraits by Giorgione, one of which is supposed to have 
represented Duke Guidobaldo, but unfortunately is lost. 

Note loi, page 51. ISOCRATES, (born 436; died 338 B.C.), an Athenian orator, 
was a pupil of Socrates, and became the instructor of many famous orators. 
His diction was of the purest Attic, and his writings were highly prized by 
the Alexandrian grammarians. The first printed edition of his works (1493) 
was edited by Castiglione's Greek master, Chalcondylas. LysiAS, (died about 
380 B.C.), an Athenian orator, abandoned the stilted monotony of the older 
speakers, and employed the simple language of every-day life, but with purity 
and grace. iESCHlNES, (born 389; died 314 B.C.), was the rival and finally un- 
successful antagonist of Demosthenes. 

Note 102, page 51. Caius Papirius Carbo, (Consul in 120 B.C.), was an 
adherent of the Gracchi, but became a renegade and finally committed suicide. 
He was generally suspected of murdering Scipio Africanus the Younger. 
While abominating the man's character, Cicero praises his oratory. Caius 
LiELluS Sapiens was Consul in 140 B.C. His friendship with Scipio is 
commemorated in Cicero's De Amicitia. While he was in his own time re- 
garded as the model orator, later grammarians resorted to his works for 
archaisms. SciPio Africanus the Younger, (died 129 B.C.), captured 
Carthage in the Third Punic War, and was leader of the aristocratic party at 
Rome against the popular reforms of the Gracchi. His works, of which only 
a few fragments survive, are praised by Cicero and w^ere long held in esteem. 
Galea, see note 87. PUBLIUS Sulpicius Rufus, (born 124; died 88 B.C.), 
was a tribune of the plebs. Cicero says: "Of all the orators I ever heard, 
Sulpicius was the most dignified, and, so to speak, the most tragic." Caius 
AURELIUS COTTA, (Consul 75 B.C.), is characterized by Cicero, who had 
argued a cause against him, as a most acute and subtle orator, but his style 
seems to have been dry and unimpassioned. CAIUS Sempronius Gracchus, 
(died 121 B.C.), a son of the famous Cornelia, and brother-in-law of Scipio 
Africanus the Younger, is noted chiefly for his vain struggle in behalf of popu- 
lar rights. Only fragments of his oratory have survived. Marcus Antonius 
and Crassus, see note 85. 

Note 103, page 51. "In a certain place," i.e., De Oratore, II, xxiii, 97. 

Note 104, page 51. The Italian mrtii has here its Latin meaning of natural 
vigour. See also note 330. 

Note 105, page 51. Angelo POLIZIANO, (born 1454; died 1494), was a native 
of Montepulciano (about twenty-seven miles south-east of Siena), of which his 
name is a Latinized form. To English students he is better known as POLI- 

344 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

TIAN, and as the author of the oft-cited line, "Tempora mutantur, nos et mu- 
tamur in illis." His father Benedetto Ambrogini died poor, leaving a widow 
and five young children almost destitute. At the age often, Angelo studied at 
Florence, and composed Latin poems and Greek epigrams while yet a boy. 
At thirteen, he published Latin epistles; at sixteen, he began his Latin transla- 
tion of the Iliad; at seventeen, he distributed Greek poems among the learned 
men of Florence; and at eighteen, he edited Catullus. He was received into 
Lorenzo de' Medici's household, and before he was thirty years old, he was 
professor of Latin and Greek at the University of Florence and was entrusted 
w^ith the care of Lorenzo's children. His pupils included the chief students 
of Europe. A born poet, entitled to the middle place of honour between Pe- 
trarch and Ariosto, he was the first Italian to combine perfect mastery of 
Latin and a correct sense of Greek with genius for his own native literature. 
Towards the close of his life, he entered holy orders and became a canon of 
the Cathedral at Florence. He was ill formed, and had squinting eyes and an 
enormous nose. His morals were lax. He was succeeded by Bembo as 
dictator of Italian letters. 

Note io6, page 51. LORENZO DE' Medici, (born 1448; died 1492), was the 
grandson of Cosimo, Pater Patrice, and father of Giuliano of The Courtier. 
On the death of his father Pietro in 1469, he succeeded jointly with his brother 
Giuliano to the family wealth and political predominance. Giuliano's assas- 
sination in the Pazzi conspiracy of 1478 (which Poliziano witnessed and nar- 
rated in Latin) left Lorenzo sole ruler, but like his predecessors, he governed 
the republic without any title, by free use of money and great adroitness in 
securing the elevation of his adherents to the chief offices of state. He was a 
man of marvellous range of mental power, — an epitome of Renaissance versa- 
tility. Never relaxing his hold on public affairs, among philosophers he passed 
for a sage; among men of letters, for an original and graceful poet; among 
scholars, for a Hellenist sensitive to every nicety of Attic idiom; among artists, 
for a connoisseur of consummate taste; among libertines, for a merry and un- 
tiring roysterer; among the pious, for an accomplished theologian. " He was 
no less famous for his jokes and repartees than for his pithy apothegms and 
maxims, as good a judge of cattle as of statues, as much at home in the bosom 
of his family as in the riot of an orgy, as ready to discourse on Plato as to plan 
a campaign or to plot the death of a dangerous citizen." (Symonds.) 

Note 107, page 51. Francesco Cattani da Diacceto, (born 1466; died 
1522), was a native of Florence, studied at Pisa, and returning to his native city 
became intimate with Ficino, of whose philosophy he may be said to have been 
the heir. For many years he lectured at Florence with such success that the 
Venetians tried to entice him to the University of Padua, in vain. A partisan 
of the Medici, he enjoyed the favour of Leo X and of Cardinal Giulio, afterwards 
Clement VII. All his works (written in Latin) are of a philosophical character. 
His style is said to be sprightly and correct, and despite the ridicule then cast 
upon the vulgar tongue, he himself translated several of his books into Italian, 

345 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

notably the Tre Libri d'Amore, with which Castiglione shows familiarity in 
the Fourth Book of The Courtier. 

Note io8, page 52. Caius Silius Italicus, (died 100 A.D.), was Consul 
under Nero and a follower of Cicero in the art of oratory. After a prosperous 
public career, he retired to a life of literary ease. His most important work 
was a long epic poem on the Second Punic War, and soon sank into oblivion, 
Cornelius Tacitus, (died probably after 117 A.D.), was Consul and orator 
as well as historian. 

Note 109, page 54. Marcus Terentius Varro, (born 116; died about 27 
B.C.), was somewhat older than Caesar, Cicero and Sallust, but outlived them all. 
He ^was regarded as the most learned of the Romans, and was made director 
of the public library by Caesar, although he had been a partisan of Pompey. 
Of his seventy-four works, which embraced nearly all branches of know^- 
ledge, only two survive. They were much esteemed by the Christian Fathers. 

Note no, page 55. CATULtuS was born about 87 B.C. His 39th ode begins: 
" Because Egnatius has white teeth, he smiles wherever he goes " {Egnatius, 
quod Candidas habet denies, renidet usque quaque). Later in the same ode, 
he says: "Nothing is more pointless than a pointless laugh" [Nam risu inepto 
res ineptior nulla est). 

Note III, page 57. MoNSEiGNEUR d'Angouleme, afterwards Francis I, 
(born 1494; died 1547), was the son of Count Charles d'Angouleme and Louise 
of Savoy. His governor, Sieur de Boisy, strove to inspire him with a taste for 
arms and a love of letters and art, and it was from romances of chivalry that 
he derived much of his education and many of his ideas of government. He 
succeeded his cousin Louis XII in January 1515, and one of the earliest func- 
tions at his court was the marriage of his aunt Filiberta of Savoy to Giuliano 
de' Medici, who is here represented by Castiglione (with what truth remains 
uncertain) as having visited the French court shortly before the date of the 
Courtier dialogues. Writing in 1515, the Venetian ambassador describes the 
young king as being really handsome (the evidence of our nearly contempo- 
raneous medal illustration to the contrary), courageous, an excellent musi- 
cian, and very learned for one of his age and rank. Under his rule, relations 
between France and Italy became closer and more active, and there began to 
penetrate beyond the Alps that Italian influence which he later greatly in- 
creased by marrying his son to Giuliano de' Medici's great-niece Caterina. 
His education had included a study of Italian literature and customs, and 
besides Federico Fregoso and Ludovico da Canossa he received and honoured 
many other illustrious Italians, among whom were Leonardo da Vinci and 
Benvenuto Cellini. He caused search to be made in Italy for rare MSS., and 
had them copied for his library. His reign, although clouded by defeats and 
humiliations, began a true literary and artistic Renaissance in France. 

Note X12, page 57. The reference here is to the famous Sorbonne (founded 

346 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

by Robert Sorbon in 1253) towards which Francis was for religious reasons 
hostile during the early years of his reign, and to which he raised up a rival 
by founding the College de France in 1530. 

Note 113, page 58. LuciUS LiciNIUS LUCULLUS, a Roman general and 
Consul (74 B.C.), noted chiefly for his wealth, luxury, and patronage of art and 
letters. LUCIUS CORNELIUS Sulla, a Roman general. Consul (88 B.C.), and 
dictator, was the first Roman to lead an army against the city, and the first to 
publish lists of his enemies, proscribing them and offering a reward for their 
death. Cneius Pompeius, or Pompey, (born 106; died 48 B.C.), a member of 
the Triumvirate with Caesar and Crassus, and the finally unsuccessful cham- 
pion of the conservative party against the power of Caesar. MARCUS Junius 
Brutus, (bom 85; died 42 B.C.), a statesman and scholar, who adhered to 
Pompey, joined Cassius in the assassination of Caesar, and was finally defeated 
by Mark Antony. Hannibal, (born 247 B.C.), the famous Carthaginian gen- 
eral who conquered Spain, crossed the Alps, overran Italy, was defeated by 
Scipio the Elder, became chief magistrate of Carthage, and committed suicide 
in exile about 183 B.C. 

Note 114, page 59. In the last chapter of his "Prince," Machiavelli (who 
was Castiglione's contemporary) says: "Although military excellence seems 
to be extinct in Italy, this arises from the fact that the old methods were not 
good and there has been no one who knew how to devise new ones. We have 
great excellence in the members, if only it were not lacking in the heads. In 
duels and engagements between small numbers, see how superior the Italians 
are in strength, in dexterity, in resource. But when it comes to armies, they 
make no showing; and it all proceeds from the weakness of the heads. 
Whence it arises that in so much time, in so many battles fought in the last 
twenty years, when an army has been purely Italian, it has always succeeded 
ill." Compare this opinion with Montaigne's remark (Essais, II, c. 24) that the 
officers of Charles VIII ascribed their easy Italian conquests to the fact that 
" the princes and nobility of Italy took more pleasure in becoming ingenious 
and learned than in becoming vigorous and warlike." 

Note 115, page 59. In 1524 Castiglione w^rote to his mother at Mantua re- 
garding the education of his son, who had just begun to study the Greek 
alphabet, as follows: "As to Camillo's learning Greek, I have had a letter also 
from Michael, who says so many things that he seems to me a flatterer. It is 
enough that the boy shows good capacity and inclination, and good pronun- 
ciation. As for Latin, I should be glad to have him attend more to Greek at 
present, for those who know are of opinion that one ought to begin with Greek; 
because Latin is natural to us, and we almost acquire it even though we spend 
little labour upon it; but Greek is not so." 

Note 116, page 59. The reader will hardly need to be reminded that the 
habit of versification was very prevalent in all ranks of Italian society in 

347 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Castiglione's day. Varchi (1502-1565) informs us that the vernacular was 
generally despised in the Florence of that time, and adds: "And I remember, 
when I was a lad, that the first and most important command which fathers 
usually gave to their children, and masters to their pupils, was that they must 
on no account whatever read anything in the vulgar tongue." 

Note 117, page 59. In the Vita Nuojfa (c. 25), Dante says: "And the first 
•who began to speak like a native poet was moved thereto because he would 
have his words understood of woman." 

Note 118, page 59. Aristippus, {flor. 400 B.C.), was a Greek philosopher, 
whose school took its name from his birthplace, Cyrene in Africa. He was 
for some time a follower of Socrates, and afterwards lived at the court of 
Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse. Diogenes Laertius relates that when Aris- 
tippus was asked what was the greatest thing he had gained from philosophy, 
he replied: "The power to meet all men with confidence." 

Note 119, page 60. Among Plutarch's works is a tract entitled "How to Tell 
Friend from Flatterer." In 1532 Erasmus published a Latin version of it dedi- 
cated to Henry VIII of England. 

Note 120, page 61. The first quatrain of a well-known sonnet by Petrarch: 

Giunto Alessandro alia fainosa tomba 
Del fero Achille, sospirando disse: 
O fortunato, che si chiara trotnba 
TroTsasti, e chi di te si alto scrisse/ 

of wrhich Mr. John Jay Chapman has kindly furnished the following translation: 

■When Alexander reached the sacred mound 

W^here dread Achilles sleeps, " O child of Fame," 
He sighed. "Thy deeds are happy that they found 
Old Homer's tongue to clarion thy name." 

In his oration Pro Archia, Cicero describes Alexander as exclaiming: "O for- 
tunate youth, who found Homer as herald of thy valour!" (O fortunate, 
inquit, adulescens qui tux mrtutis Homerum prmconem iiweneris!). 

Note 121, page 62. In an earlier version, this passage reads: "Grasso de' 
Medici will in this matter have the same advantage over Messer Pietro Bembo 
that a hogshead has over a barrel." Bembo was slender, while Grasso (fat 
man) was probably the nickname of a corpulent soldier in the service of the 
Medici, possibly identical with a certain Grasso to whom Bembo desired to 
be commended in a letter to Bibbiena, 5 February 1506. 

Note 122, page 63. The instrument used in Socrates's time [KiOdpa) was cer- 

348 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIEi 

tainly not the modern cithern, but more probably a kind of large lyre, supported 
by a ribbon and played with a plectrum of metal, wood or ivory. 

Note 123, page 63. In a note to this passage, Cian says: " Abito [rendered 
'habit of mind'] is a special condition or habitual quality of the mind, which 
manifests itself outwardly in a special costume [rendered 'habitual tendency'], 
or equally habitual behaviour, which in turn reacts upon the disposition and 
moral attitude of the individual." 

Note 124, page 64. Lycurgus probably lived in the gth century B.C., and 
was the reputed author of the Spartan laws and institutions. 

Note 125, page 64. Epaminondas, a Theban general, defeated the Spartans 
at Leuctra in 371 B.C. and at Mantinea in 362 B.C., and lost his life in the latter 
battle. 

Note 126, page 64. Themistocles, the Athenian statesman and general, 
persuaded the Greeks to resist the second Persian invasion by naval force at 
Salamis in 480 B.C. 

Note 127, page 64. One of the finest of the Pompeian frescoes represents the 
centaur Chiron teaching Achilles to play upon the lyre. 

Note 128, page 64. The reference here is of course to the familiar story of 
Orpheus and the beasts. 

Note 129, page 64. Castiglione doubtless had in mind the legend of Arion, a 
Greek poet of Lesbos, who probably flourished about 700 B.C. W^e have a 
fragment of his verse addressed to Poseidon and telling of the dolphins, who 
had wafted the poet safely to land when he had lost his course. 

Note 130, page 65. As we shall see, the Magnifico's request was not com- 
plied with until the second evening (page 81). 

Note 131, page 65. QuiNTUS Fabius Pictor was a Roman general who 
served in the Second Punic War, and wrote a Greek history of Rome, much 
esteemed by the ancients, but now lost. Pliny affirms that Fabius painted the 
temple in the 450th year after the founding of Rome (i.e. 300 B.C.), and that 
the painting was still extant about the beginning of our era. 

Note 132, page 66. The Apollo Belvedere was discovered in 1503, the 
Laocoon group in 1506, and other famous antique statues only a few years 
earlier. 

Note 133, page 66. The comparative merits of painting and sculpture were 
a frequent subject of discussion during this period. The Renaissance writers 

349 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

had inherited from antiquity a fondness for seeking superiority or inferiority 
in matters between which there exists such a diversity of character as to 
render comparison unprofitable. According to Vasari, Giorgione maintained 
"that in one picture the painter could display various aspects without the 
necessity of walking round his work, and could even display, at one glance, 
all the different aspects that could be presented by the figure of a man, even 
though the latter should assume several attitudes, — a thing which could not 
be accomplished by sculpture without compelling the observer to change his 
place, so that the work is not presented at one view, but at different views. 
He declared, further, that he could execute a single figure in painting, in such 
a manner as to show the front, back, and profiles of both sides at one and the 
same time. • . , He painted a nude figure, with its back turned to the spectator, 
and at the feet of the figure was a limpid stream, wherein the reflection of the 
front was painted with the utmost exactitude: on one side was a highly bur- 
nished corselet, of which the figure had divested itself, and wherein the left side 
was reflected perfectly, every part of the figure being clearly apparent: and on 
the other side was a mirror, in which the right profile of the nude form was 
also exhibited. By this beautiful and admirable fancy, Giorgione desired to 
prove that painting is, in effect, the superior art, requiring more talent and 
demanding higher effort." 

In one of his letters, Michelangelo wrote: " My opinion is that all painting 
is the better the nearer it approaches to relief, and relief is worse in proportion 
as it inclines to painting. And so I have been wont to think that sculpture is 
the lamp of painting, and that the difference between them might be likened to 
the difference between the sun and moon. . . . By sculpture I understand an art 
which operates by taking away superfluous material; by painting, one that 
attains its result by laying material on. It is enough that both emanate from 
the same human intelligence, and consequently sculpture and painting ought 
to live in amity together, without these lengthy disputations. More time is 
wasted in talking about the problem than would go to the making of figures in 
both species." 

Note 134, page 68. In his "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo da Vinci says: 
"The first marvel we find in painting is the apparent detachment from the 
wall or other plane, and the cheating of keen perceptions by something that is 
not separate from the surface." 

Note 135, page 68. "Grottoes," i.e. the Catacombs. Speaking in his autobi- 
ogmohy of the remains of ancient art found in the Catacombs, Benvenuto 
Cellini says: "These grotesques have received this name from the moderns 
because they were found by scholars at Rome in certain subterranean caverns, 
which had anciently been rooms, chambers, studios, halls and the like. Since 
these scholars found them in these cavernous places (which had been built by 
the ancients on the surface and had become low), and since such low places 
are known at Rome by the name Grottoes, for that reason they received the 
name grotesques." Cellini here tries to explain the origin of the name applied 

350 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

to ornaments (such as the arabesques of the Renaissance) in which figures, 
hum^n to the waist, terminate in scrolls, leafage, etc., and are combined with 
animal forms and impossible flowers. In this sense the word was used as 
early as 1502 in a contract between the Cardinal of Siena and the painter 
Pinturicchio. It had of course not yet reached its modern signification, so 
fully discussed in the appendix to Volume IV of Ruskin's " Modern Painters." 
In Castiglione's time it was not known that the catacomb decorations were 
Christian, and in any case they were founded on pagan models. 

Note 136, page 69. DEMETRIUS I of Macedon, (died 283 B.C.), was the son 
of Antigonus, who was one of Alexander's most illustrious generals and suc- 
ceeded to the Macedonian throne. 

Note 137, page 69. Of Metrodorus, nothing more is known than Pliny's 
account of the incident recorded in our text. 

Note 138, page 69. LUCIUS uEmilius Paulus, (died 160 B.C.), was a Roman 
general. Consul, and statesman of the aristocratic party. The incident men- 
tioned in the text occurred after his victory over King Perseus of Macedon 
in 168 B.C. 

Note 139, page 70. Campaspe, according to Pliny, was the name of the 
beautiful slave given by Alexander to Apelles, as narrated at page 68. 

Note 140, page 70. Zeuxis, {flor. 400 B.C.), belonged to the Ionian school 
of Greek painting, which was characterized by sensuous beauty and accurate 
imitation of nature. He lived at Athens, and his idealism is said to have been 
rather of form than of character. The picture referred to in the text repre- 
sented Helen of Troy, was regarded as his masterpiece, and was probably 
identical with a picture mentioned as being at Rome. The story of the five 
maidens is said to have been cited by Tintoretto in support of his maxim, 
"Art must perfect Nature." 

Note 141, page 71. The Marquesses Febus and Gerardino di Ceva were 
sons of the Marquess Giovanni (who was living as late as 1491), and belonged 
to one of the most illustrious families of Piedmont and indeed of all Italy. 
They were born towards the close of the 15th century and died about the third 
decade of the i6th, having obtained the investiture of their fief in 1521. They 
sided sometimes with the Emperor and sometimes with France, as best suited 
them, and left rather a bad name. To escape punishment for killing a cousin, 
Gerardino stabbed himself, and Febus also died " disperato" leaving two 
daughters in grief and shame. 

Note 142, page 71. ETTORE ROMANO GlOVENALE was a cavalier of whom 
little more is known than that he was in Francesco Maria's service, fought 
successfully as one of the thirteen Italian champions at Barletta, was after- 

351 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

wards in the service of the Duke of Ferrara, who dismissed him for an act 
of treachery. 

Note 143, page 71. COLLO ViNCENZO Calmeta of Castelnuovo, (died 1508), 
Avas a courtly poet and prose writer, who had been secretary to the Duchess 
Beatrice d'Este of Milan. Later he enjoyed the especial favour of this lady's 
sister, the Marchioness Isabella d'Este of Mantua, and also of the Duchess of 
Urbino, who protected him from the displeasure of her brother the Marquess 
of Mantua, and at whose court he improvised verse somewhat after the man- 
ner of the Unico Aretino. In a letter (1504) from Urbino to Isabella d'Este, 
Emilia Pia wrote: "Of news here there is none that is not known to you, 
except that Calmeta is continually composing songs and divers other things, 
and this carnival has written a new comedy, which he v^ould have sent you 
if he had thought it would give you pleasure." Among Calmeta's works were 
a verse compendium of Ovid's Ars Amandi, and a biography of his friend and 
fellow improvisatore, Serafino Ciminelli d'Aquila (see note 255). As known to 
us, his poetical writings do not rise above mediocrity, and wholly fail to 
explain the esteem in which they were held. 

Note 144, page 71. Orazio Florido was a native of Fano, one of the Adri- 
atic coast towns nearest to Urbino. Having been chancellor to Duke Guido- 
baldo, he became secretary to Duke Francesco Maria. W^hen Francesco was 
combating the usurper Lorenzo de' Medici in 1517, he sent one of his officers 
with Florido under protection of a safe-conduct to challenge Lorenzo to per- 
sonal combat. In spite of the safe-conduct, Florido v/as detained and sent to 
Leo X at Rome, where he was basely tortured in the hope of extorting political 
secrets from him. He remained steadfastly faithful to his master, and after- 
wards made a tour of the courts of Europe seeking aid for his lord. 

Note 145, page 73. Margarita Gonzaga was a niece of the Duchess of 
Urbino, being a natural daughter of the Marquess Gianfrancesco of Mantua. 
She was for many years one of the ornaments of the Urbino court. Various 
mentions of her in contemporary letters show her as a woman of unusual 
beauty, sprightly wit and gay disposition. She had several suitors, apparently 
including Filippo Beroaldo, who is mentioned later in The Courtier 
(page 139). 

Note 146, page 73. Of Barletta nothing more is known than \vhat is 
contained in this and another shorter mention of him in The COURTIER 
(page 87). 

Note 147, page 73. The original reads: hamendo prima danzato una bassa, 
ballarono una Roegarse. The danaa bassa was of Spanish origin and is be- 
lieved to have consisted of sliding steps and of posturing, in which the feet 
were not lifted. The verb hallare seems to be derived from the low Latin 
balla, a ball. In the Middle Ages the game of ball was accompanied with 



NOTES TO THE FIRST BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

dance and song, and we may well believe that a class of dances, thus originat- 
ing and denominated generally balli, were more animated than the danssa 
bassa. Although a Greek derivation has been ascribed to the word roegaree, 
Cian affirms that the dance thus named was of French origin. The earliest 
French translator of The COURTIER renders the word by rouergoise, which is 
apparently derived from Rouergue, the name of an ancient French province 
to the south-west of Lyons. 



353 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 148, page 75. This passage reflects the medico-philosophical theories 
which the Renaissance inherited from antiquity, and which regarded "the 
vital spirits" as something far more tangible and material than what we call 
the principle of life or vital spark. Compare the early conception of elec- 
tricity as a fluid substance. "Complexion" is of course here used to mean 
temperament or constitution, and not the mere colour and texture of the skin. 

Note 149, page 77. Duke FILIPPO MARIA VISCONTI, (born 1391; died 1447), 
was the son of Giangaleotto and Caterina Visconti, and brother of Giovanni 
Maria Visconti, whom he succeeded as Duke of Milan in 1412. He married Bea- 
trice di Tenda (widow of Facino Cane), who brought him nearly a half million 
of florins dowry, besides her husband's soldiers and cities, and thus enabled him 
gradually to win back the Lombard part of his father's duchy, which his bro- 
ther had lost. He was very ugly in person, and so sensitive that he rarely 
appeared in public. Wily but unstable, he was continually plotting schemes 
that seemed to have no object, and he mistrusted his own generals, even 
Francesco Sforza, who turned against him, forced him to a ruinous peace, and 
after his death was soon able to seize his duchy. In him the cruel selfishness 
of the Renaissance tyrant did not degenerate into mad thirst for blood, as in 
the case of his terrible brother. He read Dante, Petrarch and French romances 
of chivalry, and even dallied with the Latin classics, but genuine learning was 
neglected and despised at his court. 

Duke BoRSO D'ESTE, (born 1413; died 1471), like his brother and predecessor, 
was a natural son of Duke Niccol6 III. Kindly and just, he w^as idolized by 
the Ferrarese and especially by the women. He patronized letters and art 
and was fond of splendid living, yet in spite of the luxury of his court, he left a 
treasure of about a million pounds sterling. The art of printing was estab- 
lished at Ferrara shortly before his death. He appears to have been himself 
ignorant of Latin, and encouragfed the literary use of Italian and the study of 
French romance. Histories of Ferrara, as well as the writings of contempo- 
rary humanists, are full of his generous deeds. His mild sway passed into a 
proverb, and the time of "the good Duke Borso" was long remembered as a 
kind of golden age. 

Note 150, page 77. NICCOL6 PICCININO, (born 1380; died 1444), was so hum- 
bly born as to possess no other surname than that conferred on him in ridicule 
of his small stature. Having served under the famous Braccio da Montone, 
he married the latter's niece, and achieved such distinction as a soldier as to 
share with Francesco Sforza the fame of being the first condottiere of his day. 

355 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

He became the friend and general of Duke Federico of Urbino. His rough 
wit was highly esteemed. 

Note 151, page 77. This consciousness of the corruption then prevailing in 
Italy is even more frankly expressed by Machiavelli: "It is but too true that 
we Italians are in a special degree irreligious and corrupt." [Discorsi, I, 12.) 

Note 152, page 78. The reference here is to Plato's Phcedo, c. 3. Socrates is 
said to have turned ^sop's fables into verse. 

Note 153, page 83. The Italian r^oxxn fieresea (rendered "boldness") and the 
adjective^cro (more anciently /ero, the epithet applied by Petrarch to Achilles, 
see note 120) are derived from the Latin /erws (wild, untamed, impetuous), the 
root of which we see in our English word/erocious. While retaining its ety- 
mological signification,^ero was used to mean also: haughty, intrepid, strong, 
sturdy. 

Note 154, page 87. " Brawls" (Italian, brandi; French, brattles) were a kind 
of animated figured dance, said to be of Spanish origin and to have resembled 
the modern cotillon. A letter by Castiglione mentions this dance as having 
been performed by figures dressed as birds in one of the interludes when 
Bibbiena's Calandra was first presented at Urbino. This and other passages 
suggest that the use of masks was even more common in Italian society of 
the author's time, than at the present day. 

Note 155, page 88. Castiglione's letters show that he possessed and played 
upon a variety of musical instruments, and it is known that in Duke Federico's 
time, the palace of Urbino was well supplied with instruments and musicians. 

Note 156, page 88. Viol is the generic name for the family of bowed instru- 
ments that succeeded the mediaeval fiddle and preceded the violin. Invented 
in the 15th century, it differed from a violin in having deeper ribs, a flat back, 
and a broad centre-piece on which the sound post rested. Its neck was broad 
and thin; it had from five to seven strings, and was made in four sizes, of which 
the lowest pitched (the ziiolone or double bass) is still in use. The tone of the 
instrument is said to have been penetrating rather than powerful. 

Note 157, page 89. Wind instruments, and especially the flute, are here 
referred to. According to Plutarch, Alcibiades maintained that they were 
regarded with disfavour by Pallas and Apollo because the face is distorted in 
playing upon them. 

Note 158, page 90. The Pythagoreans supposed the intervals between the 
heavenly bodies to be determined by the laws of musical harmony. Hence 
arose the celebrated doctrine of "the music of the spheres" (already referred 
to by Castiglione in the text, page 63); for in their motion the heavenly bodies 

356 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

must each occasion a certain sound or note depending on their distances and 
velocities, which notes together formed a musical harmony, inaudible to man 
because he has been accustomed to it from the first and has never had an 
opportunity to contrast it with silence, or because it exceeds his powers of 
hearing. Pythagoras himself (died about 500 B.C.) taught his disciples to sing 
to the accompaniment of the lyre, and to chaunt hymns to the gods and to 
virtuous men. 

Note 159, page 90. As the Italian commentator. Count Vesme, suggests, the 
author may have meant to say, " shave twice a day." A weekly visit to the 
barber may, however, have been usually regarded as sufficient at this time. 

Note 160, page 93. In the beginning of his Encomium on Folly (which was 
well known in Italy when Castiglione wrote The Courtier), Erasmus pre- 
tends that, " although there has been no lack of those who, at great cost of oil and 
sleep, have exalted . . . the fourth-day ague, the fly, and baldness, with most 
tedious praise," Folly is languishing without a eulogist. Among the works 
of Lucian (flor. 160 A.D.) there is a brief humourous book in praise of the fly; 
the philosopher Favorinus [flor. 120 A.D.) is said to have written a eulogy on 
the fourth-day ague; and there is another on baldness by the early Christian 
writer, Synesius (flor. 400 A.D.). The men of the Renaissance delighted in 
similar displays of wit. 

Note 161, page 94. The Italian procella (rendered 'fury.') primarily means a 
tempest, and is so translated in the earliest French and English versions of 
The Courtier lestourbillon, storm). The still earlier Spanish version has 
pestilencia. 

Note 162, page 95. The Italian impedito (rendered 'palsied') literally means 
entangled as to the feet. 

Note 163, page 96. St. Luke, iv, 8 and 10. 

Note 164, page 97. In iEsop's fable, Asinus Domino Blandiens, an ass receives 
a sound cudgelling for his eff'orts to win his master's favour by caresses that 
he was ill fitted to bestow. 

Note 165, page 100. TiTUS Manlius, — called TORQUATUS from the chain 
{torques) that he took from the body of a gigantic Gaul whom he had slain in 
single combat, — was a favourite hero of Roman story. The incident referred 
to here occurred shortly before a Roman victory over the Latins at the foot of 
Vesuvius. Manlius and his colleague in command had proclaimed that no 
Roman might engage a Latin singly on pain of death, but a son of Manlius 
accepted a challenge from one of the enemy, slew his adversary, and bore the 
bloody spoils in triumph to his father, who thereupon caused the young man 
to be put to death before the assembled army. Manlius was Consul in 340 B.C. 

357 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note i66, page loi. Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus was Roman 
Consul in 131 B.C. According to Livy, the incident narrated in the text oc- 
curred during an unsuccessful campaign against Pergamus, which ended in 
Crassus's voluntary death. 

Note 167, page 103. Rome was sacked only the year before The Courtier 
was first published. Italy had become the plaything of foreign conquest. 

Note 168, page 103. Darius III was King of Persia 336-330 B.C. This story 
about his sword seems to be founded on the following passage in Quintus 
Curtius Rufus's History of Alexander the Great: "At the beginning of his 
reign, Darius ordered his Persian scabbard to be altered to the form which 
the Greeks used; whereupbn the Chaldeans prophesied that the empire of the 
Persians would pass to those whose arms he had imitated." 

Note 169, page 104. It will be remembered that Bembo was a Venetian. 

Note 170, page 104. The coif (cnffia) here mentioned seems to have been a 
kind of turban made of cloth wound about the head, with the two ends hang- 
ing at the ears. 

Note 171, page 105. These unfortunate creatures still abound near Bergamo. 

Note 172, page 106. Pylades and Orestes, like Pirithous and Theseus, are 
the famous friends of Greek legend. The historical and no less tender love 
between Scipio and Lselius forms the subject of Cicero's Be Amicitia. See 
note 102. 

Note 173, page log. The fellow's reward is said to have been a measure 
of the peas. 

Note 174, page 109. The Italian phrase here rendered 'goes against the 
grain ' is non gli arrh saugne (more usually non ci a^rh il suo sangne), and 
might be more precisely translated 'will not suit his humour.' The 'as we 
say' suggests that the idiom was of recent origin in Castiglione's time. 

Note 175, page 113. GlACOPO Sannazaro, (born 1458; died 1530), was a na- 
tive of Naples, and the son of Giacopo Niccol6 and Masella di San Magno. 
His boyhood was spent with his mother at San Cipriano, near her birthplace 
Salerno. He soon made such progress in Latin and Greek that he was ad- 
mitted to the academy of the famous Pontormo, of whom he became the close 
friend. Their effigies may be seen together in the Neapolitan church of Monte 
Oliveto. He received a villa and a pension from the scholarly Aragonese 
dynasty, to which he remained faithful with pen and sword, following Fed- 
erico III into exile (see note 401) in 1501, and returning to Naples only after 
his king's death in 1504. He seems to have had a peaceful and honourable old 

358 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

age, active in works of piety and charity, and employing his leisure in study 
and in the society of a certain noble lady for whom he had formed a lasting 
Platonic friendship. His writings include marine eclogues, elegies, etc., in 
Latin, but his best known work is L' Arcadia, an Italian prose romance inter- 
spersed with verse, of which sixty editions are said to have appeared before 
1600. It is regarded by Mahaffy as having originated the idea that the Greek 
Arcadia was the especial home of pastoral poetry, and probably served Sidney 
as a model for his poem of the same name. Hardly less famous were Sanna- 
zaro's anti-Borgian epigrams, to which Symonds ascribes no small part of the 
gruesome legend of Lucrezia's crimes. He was buried in a church built by 
him near the so-called tomb of Virgil, and his monument behind the high altar 
bears the Latin inscription by Bembo, in which he is described as " near alike 
to Virgil's muse and sepulchre." 

Note 176, page 113. Motet is " a term which for the last three hundred years 
has been almost exclusively applied to certain pieces of church music, of mod- 
erate length, adapted to Latin words (selected, for the most part, either from 
Holy Scripture, or the Roman office-books), and intended to be sung at high 
mass, either in place of, or immediately after, the Plain Chaunt Offertorium of 
the Day." (Grove.) The motet was sometimes founded on the air of some 
non-sacred song, as in the case of Josquin's Stabat Mater, which was based 
upon the ballad Comme Femme. (Ambros.) 

Note 177, page 113. JOSQUIN (more properly JOSSE) DE PRfes, (born about 
1450; died 1521), seems to have been a native of St. Quentin, Hainault, Belgium, 
and was one of the celebrated musicians of the Renaissance. Having been 
the pupil of Ockenheim, the greatest composer of the day, he was at the papal 
court of Sixtus IV, and successively in the service of Lorenzo de' Medici, 
Louis XII of France, and the Emperor Maximilian I. He returned to Italy 
about 1503 and lived at the court of Ferrara. He is the earliest composer 
whose works are preserved in such quantity as adequately to present his 
power, and was called "the father of harmony" by Dr. Burney. Music began 
to be printed (1498) when Josquin was in his prime. 

Note 178, page 114. Other contemporary evidence amply confirms this 
account of the occasional grossness that marked the table manners of the 
period. 

Note 179, page 115. The two princes here referred to are Ferdinand the 
Catholic of Spain (see note 392) and Louis XII of France (see note 250). 

Note 180, page 116. Paolo Niccol6 Vernia, called Nicoletto (little 
Nick) from his shortness of stature, (died 1499), was a native of Chieti, near 
the Adriatic. He probably studied at Padua, and remained there teaching 
physics, although in 1444 he took his degree in philosophy, and fourteen years 
later in medicine. He wrote chiefly on philosophy, but was noted also as a wit. 

359 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note i8i, page ii6. "\Vhen Frederick Barbarossa attempted to govern the 
rebellious Lombard cities in the common interest of the Empire, he established 
in their midst a foreign judge, called ' Podest^,' quasi habens potestatem Impera- 
toris in hac parte. . . . The title of ' Podest^' was subsequently conferred upon 
the official summoned to maintain an equal balance between the burghers and 
the nobles." Symonds's " Renaissance in Italy," ed. 1883, i, 6i. 

Note 182, page 117. This was the battle of Fornovo (6 July 1495), in which 
the Italian forces under the Marquess Gianfrancesco Gonzaga of Mantua failed 
to prevent the retreat of Charles VIII towards France. Both sides claimed a 
victory, and the marquess even went so far as to have it commemorated by 
Mantegna in a picture, "The Madonna of Victory" (Louvre), which contains 
his portrait Castiglione's father died from the effect of wounds received in 
this battle. 

Note 183, page 117. The reference here is plainly to Leonardo da Vinci (see 
note 96). His contemporaries would naturally regard as chimerical such de- 
vices as steam cannon, paddle wheels for boats, and flying machines, or such 
hints as that contained in his Codex Atlanticus, where he suggests the possi- 
bility of steam navigation. " He was the first to explain correctly the dim 
illumination seen over the rest of the surface of the moon when the bright 
part is only a thin crescent. He pointed out that when the moon was nearly 
new, the half of the earth which was then illuminated by the sun was turned 
nearly directly towards the moon, and that the moon was in consequence 
illuminated slightly by this 'earthshine,' just as we are by moonshine. This 
explanation . . . tended to break down the supposed barrier between terres- 
trial and celestial bodies." Arthur Berry's "Short History of Astronomy" 
(London, 1898), p. 91. 

Note 184, page 118. Suetonius mentions this characteristic of Caesar. 

Note 185, page iig. This is one of the few passages in The COURTIER that 
are plainly reminiscent of Dante, who says: "To that truth which hath the 
face of falsehood, man must ever close his lips " {Sempre a quel jjer che ha 
faccia di menzogna, De' I'uom chitider le labbra). Inferno, xvi, 124-5. 

Note 186, page 121. The translator admits being at a loss to find an ade- 
quate equivalent for the Italian argusie. Our unfamiliar English adjective 
' argute ' suggests that kind of pungent and witty conceits which Castiglione 
is describing. 

Note 187, page 121. Bibbiena's reputation as a wit was well established, 
while Canossa seems also to have deserved the same epithet, if -we may judge 
from a story that has been preserved of him. The count had at Rome a fine 
collection of silver plate, including a flagon with a lid in the form of a tiger. 
A friend having borrowed this flagon and kept it for two months, returned it 

360 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

only on demand and with the request that the count lend him a certain salt- 
cellar, which had a crab for a cover. Ludovico sent word that if the tiger, 
which is the swiftest of beasts, had been two months coming home, the crab, 
being slower than all others, would by the same rule be absent for years, and 
that on this account he was unwilling to let it go. 

Note i88, page 122. The allusion is of course to Bibbiena's early baldness. 

Note 189, page 122. Cardinal Galeotto della Rovere, (born about 1477; 
died 1508), was the favourite nephew of Julius II, being a son of the pope's 
sister Luchina by her first husband Gianfrancesco Franciotti, a patrician of 
Lucca. Like all his mother's other children, he was adopted as of the della 
Rovere name. Having been made Bishop of Lucca, he was created a cardinal 
on his uncle's election as pope, appointed pontifical vice-chancellor, and soon 
given a great number of benefices. Generous and amiable, and a patron of 
artists and authors, he was much beloved at the court of Urbino, as is shown 
by several documents, among which is a letter by Emilia Pia mentioning two 
sonnets of his, in one of which (written the day before his last illness) he 
foretold his early death. 

Note igo, page 123. GlACOMO Sansecondo, a noted musician who flourished 
between the years 1493 and 1522 at the courts of Milan, Mantua, Ferrara, Urbino 
and Rome, where he attained a wide celebrity in the pontificate of Leo X. He 
seems to have ended his days in adversity, in some degree relieved by his 
friend Castiglione, whose letters contain several affectionate mentions of him. 

Note 191, page 124. Democritus, {flor. 400 B.C.), was the atomistic philoso- 
pher of Abdera in Thrace. He possessed an ample fortune, and his cheerful 
disposition led him to look on the bright and humourous side of things, a fact 
taken by later writers to mean that he laughed at the follies of mankind. 

Note 192, page 125. The phrase 'served her in love' and the conventional 
relation that it denoted, were drawn from mediaeval life and literature north 
of the Alps, and with some changes survived in Italy during the Renaissance, 
until the canalier sertiente became in the i8th century a recognized institution. 
Attendance upon the lady at church was a characteristic feature of the cavalier's 
service. 

Note 193, page 126. Plus III, Francesco Todeschini, (born 1439; died 1503), 
was a native of Siena and a nephew of the illustrious ^neas Silvius Picco- 
lomini (Pius II). The suddenness of his predecessor Alexander VI's death 
took the sacred college by surprise, and they unanimously elected their weak- 
est member as pope. His short pontificate of twenty-six days was filled with 
disturbances, and he was believed to have died from poison. 

Note 194, page 126. ANTONIO Agnello, (died after 1527), belonged to one 
of the most noted families of Mantua, and seems to have been the son of 

361 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Giulio Agnello and Margarita Crema. Besides being an able man of affairs 
(employed by the Palaeologus rulers of Montferrat), he was a graceful poet, 
and became the friend of Bembo and Castiglione. 

Note 195, page 126. The poet Caius Valerius Catullus, (born about 87 
B.C.), was a native of Verona and a friend of Caesar and Cicero. His extant 
works include one hundred and sixteen poems, lyric, epigrammatic, elegiac, 
etc. His 6gth Ode is a dialogue between the author and a door. 

Note 196, page 127. Pope NICHOLAS V, Tommaso Parentucelli, (born 1398; 
died 1455), was a native of Pisa, whence his family were exiled in his infancy. 
Although his father died when he was nine years old, and in spite of great 
poverty, he contrived to study at the University of Bologna. Later he served 
as tutor in the Albizzi and Strozzi families at Florence, thus earning enough 
money to return and take his theological degree at Bologna. He then entered 
the service of the archbishop of the latter city, whom he accompanied to 
Florence, and there became a friend of Cosimo de' Medici and a member of 
the literary society of the place. In 1443 he was made Bishop of Bologna, 
and four years later was elected pope, an elevation that he owed solely to his 
reputation for learning and to the comparatively small esteem in which the 
office was then held. The humanists were delighted at the election of one of 
their own number. As pope, he devoted his revenues to maintaining a splen- 
did court, to the rebuilding of the fortifications and palaces of Rome, and to 
the enrichment of scholars. During his pontificate the city became a work- 
shop of erudition. He founded the Vatican Library, for which he collected 
five thousand volumes, and the list prepared by him for Cosimo de' Medici to 
use in beginning the Library of San Marco, was followed also by Duke 
Federico of Urbino. He was a small, ugly man. 

Nihil Papa Valet, 'the Pope is good for nothing. 

Note 197, page 127. Le., in the second tale of the Eighth Day. 

Note 198, page 127. Calandrino is an unfortunate and very amusing char- 
acter appearing in the third and sixth tales of the Eighth Day and in the fifth 
tale of the Ninth Day. 

Note 199, page 128. Niccol6 Campani, called Strascino, (born 1478; died 
between 1522 and 1533), was an excellent actor of Sienese rustic comedies and 
farces, and the author of verses and of a Lament that was very popular in the 
i6th century. He frequented the court of Leo X, and several of Castiglione's 
letters (1521) tell of efforts to secure the actor's services for the Marquess of 
Mantua, and of furnishing him with twenty-five ducats, a horse, and a papal 
pass, for the purpose. 

Note 200, page 128. 'This place,' i.e., Urbino. 

Note 201, page 129. The reader will hardly need to be reminded that the 

362 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

great Roman orator was often spoken of as TuUius or TuUy rather than 
as Cicero. 

Note 202, page 129. ^Vhen The Courtier was expurgated by Antonio Cic- 
carelli in 1584 (see LIST OF EDITIONS), Dante's name was here substituted for 
that of St. Paul. The word becco (rendered 'he-goat') has long been used by 
the Italians as a term of jocose reproach applied to a man whose wife is 
unfaithful. 

Note 203, page 129, Duke Ercole I D'ESTE, (born 1431; died 1505), was the 
legitimate son of Duke Niccol6 III and Rizzarda di Saluzzo. Bred at the 
Neapolitan court, he became Duke of Ferrara on the death of his half-brother 
Borso (see note 149) in 1471. In 1473 he married Eleanora of Aragon, daughter 
of Ferdinand I of Naples. Among the six children of this union were: Isabella, 
who became Marchioness of Mantua (see note 397); Beatrice, who became 
Duchess of Milan (see note 398); Alfonso, who married Lucrezia Borgia and 
succeeded his father as duke; and the Cardinal Ippolito already mentioned 
(see note 64). Although his reign was far from peaceful, his court was noted 
for its luxury and for the brilliancy of art and letters with which it was 
adorned. He was an especial patron of the theatre, no less than five comedies 
of Plautus being performed during the wedding festivities of his son Alfonso 
in 1502. On the other hand, he maintained relations with Savonarola, who was 
a native of Ferrara. 

Note 204, page 130. Castellina wras a small walled town in the Chianti hills, 
which was held as a Florentine outpost against Siena. The siege referred to 
in the text took place in 1478, when the place capitulated to the Neapolitan and 
papal troops after holding out for forty days. Duke of Calabria was the title 
regularly borne by the heir of each Aragonese king of Naples. The personage 
here meant must have been Alfonso the Younger (see note 31). 

Note 205, page 130. 'While the meaning is not free from doubt, the point of 
the story seems to lie in the absurdity of the Florentine's supposing that after 
being discharged from a cannon, a projectile would retain any poison previously 
applied to it. 

Note 206, page 130. It will be remembered that Bembo was a Venetian, 
while Bibbiena's birthplace was a Florentine town. 

Note 207, page 130. This war lasted from 1494 to 1509, and proved ruinous 
to both sides. Castiglione's use of the past tense in speaking of it here doubt- 
less arose from the fact that he was writing several years after the date that 
he assigns to the dialogues. 

Note 208, page 131. Pistoia and Prato were two small cities which lay to 
the north-west of Florence and were subject to its rule. Modern issues of 

363 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

"fiat" money are but a slight modification of the method proposed by the 
worthy Florentine. 

Note 209, page 131. Bucentaur was the name of the state galley of the Venetian 
Republic, used (among other occasions) in the symbolic ceremony of wedding 
the Adriatic, which was enjoined upon the Venetians by Alexander III (pope 
1159-1181) to commemorate their victory over the fleet of Frederick Barbarossa. 
On each Ascension Day a ring was dropped from the Bucentaur into the Adri- 
atic, with the words, "we espouse thee, sea, in token of true and lasting do- 
minion." The vessel bore the image of a centaur as figure-head. Of the last 
of several successive Bucentaurs (demolished in 1824), a few fragments are 
preserved in the Arsenal at Venice. In the 15th and i6th centuries the name 
was applied to state vessels of ceremony elsewhere. By some the word is 
supposed to be derived from the Greek 0ov^ (ox) and Kivravpoq (centaur); by 
others it is regarded as a corruption of the Latin diicentorutn (of two hundred 
oars), or of the Italian busino d'oro (golden bark). 

Note 210, page 133. This tale, not unworthy of Munchausen, may have been 
suggested to Castiglione by a passage in one of the minor works of Plutarch, 
who relates that Antiphanes (a friend of Plato) said that " he visited a certain 
city where words froze as soon as spoken, by reason of the great cold; and 
later, sounds uttered in winter melted in the spring and were heard by the 
inhabitants." Although Plutarch represents the story as told in illustration 
of the way in which "those who came as young men to listen to Plato's talk, 
understood it only long afterwards, when they had grown old," it is worth 
noting that an Antiphanes, of Berga in Thrace, is known as a writer on the 
marvellous and incredible. 

Note 211, page 133. Vasco da Gama rounded the southern extremity of 
Africa and reached India nine years before the date of the Courtier dialogues. 

Note 212, page 133. This must have been Emanuel I, who was King of 
Portugal from 1495 until his death in 1521, and who promoted the expeditions 
of da Gama and other Portuguese navigators. 

Note 213, page 134. Taffpty was a very light soft silk fabric. There is ex- 
tant a letter of Bembo's (1541), in which the aged cardinal orders two cushions 
filled with swan's down and covered with crimson taffety. The word is said 
to be derived from the Persian taftah (twisted, woven). Taft is the name of a 
town in central Persia. 

Note 214, page 134. Annibal Paleotto, (died 1516), belonged to an ancient 
and honourable Bolognese family (with which Castiglione is known to have 
been on friendly terms), and was the son of an eminent jurist, Vincenzo Pale- 
otto, who died in 1498. Leo X made Annibale a senator of Bologna in 1514, 
the brief being written by Bembo. 

364 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 215, page 135. Giacopo di Nino was BISHOP OF PoTENZA from 
1506 until 1521, and seems to have been a butt for the ridicule of Leo X's 
court. 

Note 216, page 136. An earlier version of this passage reads: "And of this 
kind was what Rinaldo in the Morgante said to the Giant: ' Where do you hang 
your spectacles?' " The Morgante Maggiore is a serio-burlesque romantic 
poem by Luigi Pulci (1431-1487), introducing, among other characters of medi- 
aeval romance, Rinaldo, his cousin Orlando, and the giant Morgante. 

Note 217, page 136. Galeotto Marzi da Narni, (born about 1427; died 
about 1490), a singular example of the adventurer-humanist, studied at the 
universities of Padua and Bologna, and taught at the latter place. He twice 
visited the court of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, for whom he wrote 
a book on jests. He was something of an astrologer and also the author of a 
work on chiromancy. Being accused of heresy, he was imprisoned at Venice 
in 1477, and condemned to make public recantation in the Piazzetta with a 
crown of devils on his head. He is said to have been learned and witty. The 
story given in the text became almost proverbial. 

Note 218, page 136. The present form (bisticcio) oi bischissso (rendered 'play- 
ing on words') has a meaning somewhat different from that indicated in the 
text, — being the term applied to a succession of words the similarity of whose 
sound renders them difficult to pronounce, e.g., " Peter Piper picked a peck of 
pickled peppers." 

Note 219, page 136. At this time the general use of family names was com- 
paratively recent, and their form was somewhat variable. Thus, such sur- 
names as Pio and Fregoso were treated as still being, what they doubtless 
originally were, merely personal epithets, and so were given the feminine 
form (Pia, Fregosa) when applied to women. The adjective pia means duti- 
ful, pious, kind, while impia or empia of course means the reverse. 

Note 220, page 136. "The greatest of the Furies is my bedfellow." With a 
change of one syllable in the Latin, this becomes Furiarnin maxima juxta 
accnbat (" The greatest of the Furies lies hard by "), iEneid, V, 605-6. 

Note 221, page 136. Geronimo DONATO, (born 1457; died 1511), was a native 
of Venice, where he held many public offices, besides being sent abroad as 
ambassador of the Republic, especially to the courts of Alexander VI and 
Julius IL He also enjoyed no small fame as a cultivator of science, art and 
letters (particularly Greek and theology). The incident narrated in the text 
occurred during his embassy to Alexander, to whom on another occasion he 
made a far wittier retort. Being jestingly asked by the pope where Venice 
got its right of lordship over the Adriatic, he answered: "Let your Holiness 
show me the title deed to the Patrimony of St. Peter, and on the back of it will 

365 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

be found inscribed the grant to the Venetians of their dominion over the 
Adriatic." 

Note 222, page 136. In the Roman Church a "station" (stasione) is a church 
where indulgences are granted at certain seasons. In earlier times such 
churches were visited in solemn procession, which afterwards came to be 
regarded as an opportunity for social recreation. The word is used also to 
designate the indulgences earned by visiting, on appointed days, many 
churches founded by popes. 

Note 223, page 136. "As many stars as heaven, so many girls hath thy 
Rome," Ovid's Ars Amandi, I, 59. 

Note 224, page 136. "As many kids as the pasture, so many satyrs hath 
thy Rome," is as close an English rendering as Oonato's Latin will bear. 

Note 225, page 136. Marcantonio della Torre belonged to an ancient 
noble family of Verona, was a famous anatomist, and is said to have included 
Leonardo da Vinci among his pupils. He died at the age of thirty, and was 
highly praised for his learning. His father Geronimo lectured on medicine 
at Padua. 

Pietro Barozzi became Archbishop of Padua in 1487, and died in 1507. 
Bandello (who had read The Courtier in MS.) relates the same story in 
somewhat wittier form, but gives the name of the prelate as Gerardo Landriano, 
Bishop of Como. 

Note 226, page 137. St. Luke, xvi, 2. 

Note 227, page 137. St. Matthew, xxv, 20. 

Note 228, page 137. Proto da Lucca was one of the most famous buffoons 
who enlivened the pontifical court at the beginning of the i6th century. If, as 
seems probable, the incident in question occurred in January 1506 (when Ber- 
nardino Lei died and was succeeded by Antonio da Castriani as Bishop of 
Cagli, a town near Urbino), the pope in question must have been Julius II, to 
whom the epithet ' very grave ' would be entirely appropriate. 

Note 229, page 138. The play is upon the word 'office' in its two meanings 
of post or employment, and breviary or prayer-book. In the latter sense, the 
•full office' contained the psalms, lessons, etc., — while the 'Madonna's office' 
was much abbreviated. 

Note 230, page 138. GIOVANNI Calfurnio, (born 1443; died 1503), was a 
gentle and laborious humanist, born at or near Bergamo, but long resident at 
Padua, where he held the chair of rhetoric. His chief work consisted in cor- 
recting and commenting upon the texts of Latin poets. The ' another man at 

366 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Padua' was probably RafFaele Regio (a fellow professor with Calfurnio), who 
publicly ridiculed his colleague as the son of a charcoal-burner. Calfurnio 
seems to have published very little; on his death he bequeathed his library to 
the church of San Giovanni in Verdara, from which his tomb and portrait 
relief have recently been removed to a cloister of the monastery of St. Antony 
at Padua. 

Note 231, page 138. Tommaso Inghirami, " Fedra," (born 1470; died 1516), 
was a native patrician of Volterra (a town about midway between Pisa and 
Siena), being the son of Paolo Inghirami and Lucrezia Barlettani. Having 
passed his early boyhood at Florence, he removed to Rome in 1483, where he 
played the part of Phcedra in Seneca's tragedy Hippolytus (upon which Racine 
founded his Phedre) with such success that the name clung to him for life. 
The play being interrupted by an accident to the scenery, he filled the interval 
by improvising Latin verses for the entertainment of the audience. The per- 
formance took place in the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian, which was 
afterwards converted into the fortress known as the Castle of St. Angelo. 
Tommaso was employed by Alexander VI in diplomatic affairs, crowned poet 
by the Emperor Maximilian I, and made a canon of the Lateran and of the 
Vatican. He seems to have been connected with the Vatican Library as early 
as 1505, and became its prefect. Although Erasmus called him the Cicero of 
his time, his fame now rests rather on his portrait in the Pitti Gallery at 
Florence, than on his works. 

Note 232, page 138. CAMILLO Paleotto was a brother of the Annibal 
Paleotto already mentioned (see note 214). On his father's death in 1498, he 
went to Rome, where he became the friend of Federico Fregoso, Bembo and 
Castiglione. He taught rhetoric at Bologna and was Chancellor of the Senate 
there. There also he is said to have died in 1530, although a letter of Bembo's 
speaks of him in 1518 as then already dead. 

Note 233, page 138. Antonio Porcaro, or Porzio, belonged to a noble 
Roman family, and was a brother of the Camillo Porcaro mentioned in The 
Courtier (at page 140). He had also a twin brother Valerio, whom he so 
closely resembled that the two were often mistaken, one for the other, as 
Bibbiena says in the preface to his Calandra, — the plot of which is founded 
upon a similar resemblance. Little more is known of Antonio than that he 
suffered some grievous wrong from Alexander VI. 

Note 234, page 138. Regarding GlANTOMMASO Galeotto, Cian furnishes 
no information. The Spanish annotator, Fabi6, adds Marcio (Marzio) to his 
name, — thus apparently treating him as identical with the Galeotto da Narni 
mentioned above at page 136, — and says that he "died, by reason of his great 
corpulence, from a fall from his horse, being in the train of Charles VIII of 
France, when the latter entered Milan," As " My lord Prefect" was only four 
years old when Charles entered Milan in 1494, this identification seems clearly 
erroneous. 

367 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 235, page 139. FILIPPO Beroaldo, (born 1472; died 1518), belonged to 
a noble Bolognese family. Having been one of his famous uncle Filippo the 
elder's most brilliant pupils in the classics, he was at the age of twenty-six 
made professor of literature at Bologna, and afterwards at Rome. In 1511 he 
successfully defended Duke Francesco Maria of Urbino against the charge of 
murdermg Cardinal Alidosi. Instead of seeking to extenuate the deed, as done 
in heat and under strong provocation, he boldly justified it on the ground that 
his client was the instrument chosen by the Almighty to rid the world of a 
monster of wickedness, and eloquently appealed to the tribunal to spare a 
hero whose promise of future usefulness was precious to Italy. Beroaldo 
was secretary to Cardinal Giovanni de' Medici, and on the latter's election as 
pope, he was made Provost of the Roman Academy, while at Inghirami's 
death he was made Librarian of the Vatican, as a reward for editing the 
recently discovered first five books of Tacitus's Annals. He died at Rome, 
partly (it is said) from vexation at not being paid the stipend of his office. 
Bembo wrote his epitaph. Although he was celebrated for erudition and 
eloquence rather than for authorship, he left three books of odes, and one of 
epigrams, — in Latin. 

Note 236, page 139. The pupil obviously used the phrase in its low Latin 
meaning, " Master, God give you good evening." Beroaldo jocosely accepted 
it in its classical meaning, " Master, God give you good, late." 

Note 237, page 139. "Evil to thee, soon." 

Note 238, page 139. Diego de Chignones, (died 1512), was a Spanish cava- 
lier, of whom BranthSme writes as follows: "This Great Captain had for 
lieutenant, with a company of one hundred men-at-arms, Don Diego de Qui- 
gnones, who supported him in his combats and victories, and was truly a good 
and brave lieutenant to him. After the Great Captain's death, he had sole 
command of his company of an hundred men-at-arms, as he well deserved to 
have. He commanded it at the battle of Ravenna, where he died like a brave 
and valiant captain. And if all had behaved as he did (say the old Spaniards), 
the victory that the French won there would have cost them dearer than it 
did, although it cost them dear." 

Note 239, page 139. Don Gonzalvo Hernand y Aguilar, better known as 
Consalvo de Cordoba, or The Great Captain, (born 1443; died 1515), was 
a native of Montilla, near Cordova, and belonged to an ancient family of 
Spanish grandees. His father's name was Pietro, and his mother's was 
Elvira Errea. Bred to war in early youth and knighted on the field of battle 
at the age of sixteen, he followed the fortunes of Ferdinand the Catholic, and 
took an active part in the conquest of Granada. In 1494 he was sent to Italy 
to aid Ferdinand II of Naples against Charles VIII, won a long succession of 
victories over the French, and was finally made Constable and Viceroy of 
Naples. Later, Ferdinand the Catholic, listening to slanderous reports regard- 

368 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

ing him, deprived him of office, and in 1507 recalled him to Spain, where he 
died in disgrace. His good qualities were much admired by Castiglione, who 
had fought against him, but his fame was not unstained by acts of cruelty and 
bad faith, which (it is fair to say) were common at the time and seem to have 
been committed only against his master's foes. Giorgione is said to have 
painted his portrait at Venice, and a life of him by Paolo Giovio was published 
at Florence in 1552. 

Note 240, page 139. The Spanish word mno means not only "wine" but also 
"he came." In pronunciation it would be easily mistaken for Y-no. Y nolo 
conocistes is the Spanish for "And thou knewest Him not." Compare St. John, 
i, II. 

Note 241, page 139. The word marano (here rendered "heretic") meant a 
renegade Moor, and is said by Symonds to have been generally used in Italy 
at this time as a term of reproach against Spaniards. 

Note 242, page 139. GlACOMO Sadoleto, (born 1477; died 1547), was a 
native of Modena and the son of a noted jurist, Giovanni Sadoleto. He studied 
Latin at Ferrara and Greek at Rome, where he settled in the pontificate of 
Alexander VI and acquired a great reputation for learning, Leo X appointed 
him a secretary at the same time with Bembo, (who shared with him the name 
of being the best Latinist of the day), and soon made him Bishop of Carpen- 
tras, a town fifteen miles north-east of Avignon. He was secretary also to 
Clement VII, to whom he boldly declared that the sack of Rome (1527) was 
inflicted by God as a punishment for human wickedness. Paul III created 
him a cardinal in 1536. A sincerely pious man, he was conscious of the evils 
of the Church and did not escape suspicion of heresy. He was a close friend 
of Vittoria Colonna, and the Roman Academy often met at his house on the 
Quirinal. Besides Latin poems (one of which, on the newly discovered La- 
ocoon group, made him famous), his works include commentaries on the Psalms 
and the Epistle to the Romans, and a Latin exhortation to the princes and 
people of Germany against Lutheran heresies. Although far from rich, he 
was very charitable, especially in providing young men of his flock with the 
means of education. 

Note 243, page 139. LuDOVico DA San Bonifacio is identified by Cian as 
a Paduan, who held the offices of prothonotary and private chamberlain under 
Leo X, successfully disputed with Bembo the possession of a canonry at Padua 
in 1514, was sent to different courts by Leo, and died at Padua in 1545. 

Ercole Rangone, (died 1572), belonged to an illustrious family of Modena, 
and achieved some note as a soldier and diplomatist, having commanded the 
Florentine forces in 1529, and served as Ferrarese ambassador to France, Spain 
and Germany. He was esteemed by Castiglione, of whose wife Ippolita Torello 
he seems to have been a kinsman. 

The Count of Pepoli probably belonged to a noble Bolognese family of 
that name, but has not been identified with certainty. 

369 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 244, page 140. Of Sallaza dalla Pedrada nothing seems to be 
known beyond the mention of him in the text. 

Note 245, page 140. Palla degli Strozzi, (born 1372; died 1462), was a 
wealthy and cultivated Florentine patrician. Having honourably filled high 
offices of state, he was banished by Cosimo de' Medici in 1434 for ten years to 
Padua. Himself an enthusiastic scholar and patron of classical studies, he 
caused many Greek MSS. to be brought into Italy (including works of Plato, 
Aristotle and Plutarch), and was the first Italian to collect books for the express 
purpose of founding a public library, in the execution of which design he was 
prevented by his exile from anticipating Cosimo. He employed learned Greeks 
to read to him, and was instrumental in inducing Chrysoloras to teach at 
Florence, — an engagement regarded by Symonds as having secured the future 
of Hellenic study in Europe. The story narrated of him in the text is else- 
where told of an exile belonging to the Albizzi family. 

Note 246, page 140. CosiMO DE' Medici, Pater Patrice, (born 1389; died 
1464), was a Florentine banker, statesman and patron of literature and art. In 
his father Giovanni's house of business he cultivated the rare faculty for finance 
that he afterwards employed in public administration and private commerce. 
He inherited his father's vast fortune in 1429, and made it a practice to lend 
money to needy citizens and at the same time to involve the affairs of Florence 
with his own, — thus not only attaching individuals to his interests, but ren- 
dering it difficult to control state expenditures apart from his own bank. He 
understood also how to use his money without exciting jealousy, and while 
he spent large sums on public works, he declined the architect Brunelleschi's 
plans for a residence more befitting a prince than a citizen. He was an early 
riser, and temperate and simple in his life. W^hile ruling Florence with despotic 
power, he seemed intent on the routine of his counting-house, and put forward 
other men to execute his political schemes. Despite occasional checks, he so 
firmly established the influence of his family as the real rulers of Florence that 
they were not permanently expelled until the nineteenth century. Much of his 
power was due to sympathy with the intellectual movement of the age, and 
although he was not a Greek scholar, he had a solid education, and collected 
MSS., gems, coins and inscriptions, employing his commercial agents in the 
work. During a year of exile, he built a library at Venice, and later he built 
one at Florence and another at Fiesole. His house was the centre of a literary 
and philosophical society, which included all the wits of Florence and the 
strangers who flocked to that capital of culture. 

Note 247, page 140. Camillo Porcaro, or PORZIO, (died 1517), was a brother 
of the Antonio Porcaro already mentioned in The Courtier (at page 138; see 
note 233). He was a professor of rhetoric at Rome, and a canon of St. Peter's. 
Leo X made him Bishop of Teramo, a town near the Adriatic north-east of 
Rome. He was a member of the Roman Academy, and some of his Latin 
verse has survived. 

370 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 248, page 140. Marcantonio Colonna, (died 1522), the son of Pier- 
antonio Colonna and Bernardina Conti, was a second cousin of Vittoria Colonna. 
His wife Lucrezia Gara della Rovere was a niece of Julius II and sister of the 
Cardinal Galeotto della Rovere already mentioned (at page 122; see note 189). 
In 1502 he fled from Rome to escape the persecution of the Borgias, repaired 
to the kingdom of Naples, and took service under the "Great Captain." He 
served also in the armies of Julius II, Maximilian I, and Francis I, and took 
part in nearly all the wars of his time. He was cited as a model of physical 
beauty and martial prowess. 

Note 249, page 141. DiEGO Garzia is regarded by the Spanish annotator, 
Fabi6, as identical with the famous warrior Diego Garcia de Paredes, (born 
1466; died 1530), who began the life of a soldier at the age of twelve, and had a 
brilliant share, with the "Great Captain," in the expulsion of the Moors from 
Spain and later in the Italian campaigns. He was a man of great height and 
strength, and is said on one occasion to have stopped the wheel of a rapidly 
moving wind-mill with his single hand. Charles V made him a Knight of the 
Golden Spur, and he is often called the Chevalier Bayard of Spain. 

Note 250, page 141. LOUIS XII, (born 1462; died 1515), was the son of Duke 
Charles d'Orleans and Anne of Cleves. He accompanied Charles VIII into 
Italy in 1494, became king on his cousin's death in 1498, and the following year 
married Charles's widow Anne of Brittany. In 1500 he expelled Duke Ludo- 
vico Sforza of Milan, to whose duchy he laid claim as the grandson of Valen- 
tina Visconti. The following year he conquered Naples in alliance with 
Ferdinand the Catholic, but quarrelled with his ally over the division of the 
country, with the result that his force was defeated by the "Great Captain" 
at Garigliano in 1503, and withdrew from Naples in 1504. He joined the League 
of Cambray against Venice in 1508, but in 1511 the Holy League was formed 
against him, and in 1513 the French were again compelled to leave Italy. On 
the death of Anne of Brittany in 1514, he married Mary, the youthful sister of 
Henry VIII of England, to whom in dymg (i January 1515) he is reported to 
have said: "Dear, I leave thee my death as a New Year's gift." He was sin- 
cerely regretted by his subjects, and was known as "The Father of His People." 
Michelet says of him: " He was a good man, honest by nature, sometimes ab- 
surd, indiscreet, talkative, testy; but he had a heart, and the only way for men 
to flatter him was to persuade him that they desired the good of his subjects." 
Among his sayings was "Good king, stingy king; I prefer to be ridiculous to 
my courtiers, than deaf to my people," 

Note 251, page 141. DjEM or ZIZIM, (born 1459; died 1495), was a son of 
Mahomet II, the conqueror of Constantinople. On the death of his father in 
1481, he tried to dispossess his brother as sultan, but being defeated, he sought 
refuge at Rhodes, where the Knights of the Order of St. John received him for 
a while, and then sent him to France. In 1489 he was surrendered to the cus- 
tody of Innocent VIII, from whom he passed into the hands of Alexander VI. 

371 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Both these pontiffs received a subsidy for his maintenance from his brother 
the sultan. In 1495 Charles VIII took him to Naples, where he was impris- 
oned and soon died from the effect (it is supposed) of poison administered at 
Rome by order of Alexander VI. Of his life at the papal court, we get the 
following glimpse in a letter from Mantegna to the Marquess of Mantua: "The 
Turk's brother is here, strictly guarded in the palace of his Holiness, who 
allows him all sorts of diversion, such as hunting, music, and the like. He 
often comes to eat in this new palace where I paint [i.e., the Belvedere], and, 
for a barbarian, his manners are not amiss. There is a sort of majestic bear- 
ing about him, and he never doffs his cap to the Pope, having in fact none; 
. . . He eats five times a day, and sleeps as often; before meals he drinks 
sugared water like a monkey. He has the gait of an elephant, but his people 
praise him much, especially for his horsemanship: it may be so, but I have 
never seen him take his feet out of the stirrups, or give any other proof of 
skill. He is a most savage man, and has stabbed at least four persons, who 
are said not to have survived four hours. A few days ago, he gave such a 
cuffing to one of his interpreters that they had to carry him to the river, in 
order to bring him round. It is believed that Bacchus pays him many a visit. 
On the whole he is dreaded by those about him. He takes little heed of any- 
thing, like one who does not understand or has no reason. His way of life 
is quite peculiar; he sleeps without undressing, and gives audience sitting 
cross-legged, in the Parthian fashion. He carries on his head sixty thousand 
yards of linen, and wears so long a pair of trousers that he is lost in them, 
and astonishes all beholders." 

Note 252, page 141. The Grand Turk in question was Bajazet II, (born 
1447; died 1512), who succeeded his father (Mahomet II, the conqueror of Con- 
stantinople) in 1481, was almost uninterruptedly engaged in war with Hungary, 
Venice, Egypt and Persia, was deposed by his son Selim, and died soon after- 
wards. He was repeatedly invited by Alexander VI to invade Europe and 
fight the pope's Christian enemies. The friendly relations between the two 
were closely connected with the captivity of Bajazet's brother, just mentioned. 
As a token of his gratitude, the Turk sent Innocent VIII the "Lance of Lon- 
ginus," the centurion who was supposed to have pierced the Saviour's side on 
Calvary and afterwards to have been converted to Christianity. As a reward 
for the death of his brother, he sent Alexander VI a sum of money equivalent 
to over £'500,000 sterling, and a tunic alleged to have been worn by the 
Saviour. These, however, were intercepted by the pope's enemy, Giuliano 
della Rovere, afterwards Julius II. 

Note 253, page 142. The Archbishopric of Florence was occupied by Roberto 
Folco from 1481 until his death in 1530. 

•The Alexandrian cardinal' is the name by which Giannantonio di Sangi- 
orgio, (born 1439; died 1509), was commonly known. At the age of twenty- 
seven he became professor of canon law at Pavia. In 1479 he was made 
Bishop of Alexandria, and soon afterwards called to Rome and made an 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Auditor of the Ruota (see note 292), which office he continued to hold until he 
was created a cardinal in 1493. He was regarded as the most eminent jurist 
of his day. 

Note 254, page 142. Besides the mention of this NiCOLETTO in the text, 
nothing more seems to be known of him beyond the following anecdote: "Of 
messer Nicoletto da Orvieto it is narrated that, being in the service of that 
very courteous pontiff Pope Leo, he once won the lasting favour of his Holi- 
ness with only four words; for one day, the talk turning upon a certain vacant 
benefice which was sought after by a member of the Vitelli family to whom it 
could be given, he said humourously: 'Holy Father, fitness requires that it 
be by all means conferred on Vitello (calf), the more because it has no nearer 
or closer kinsman than he is,' — playing on the word 'vacant,' which he 
seemed to derive from Ttacca (cow), the mother of the calf." Garzoni's L'Hos- 
pidale de' Passi Incur abili, (Piacenza: 1586), page 142. 

Note 25s, page 142. Antonio Cammelli, (born 1440; died 1502), called PISTOIA 
from the name of his birthplace, was a prolific writer of verse, chiefly sonnets 
of a humourous and satirical character, which have no small historical value. 
He spent the larger part of his life in the service of the d'Este at Ferrara, and 
in that of Duke Ludovico Sforza, of Milan, to whom he remained faithful in 
adversity. An edition of his verse was published at Turin by Renier in 1888. 

This Serafino was not our merry interlocutor, but the now almost for- 
gotten lyric poet, Serafino Ciminelli, (born 1466; died 1500), who was a native 
of Aquila (fifty-five miles north-east of Rome), and a welcome guest at the 
courts of Naples, Rome, Urbino, Mantua and Milan. His verse was by some 
preferred to that of Petrarch, and the unbounded popularity which he enjoyed 
was doubtless due to the skill with which he improvised to his own accom- 
paniment on the lute. He was a short ugly man of elfish appearance. 

Note 255, page 142. GIOVANNI GONZAGA, (born 1474; died 1523), was the 
third son of the Marquess Federico of Mantua and Margarita of Bavaria. He 
married Laura Bentivoglio, fought in his youth against Charles VIII, and in 
1512 was in the service of the Sforza family. He was employed also by his 
brother Gianfrancesco, Marquess of Mantua, in political negotiations. In 1519, 
on the death of Lucrezia Borgia, he wrote to his nephew, the new Marquess 
Federico of Mantua: "Lucrezia's death occasioned much grief throughout the 
city, and his Ducal Highness in particular displayed extreme distress. Men 
here tell wonderful things of her life: for the last ten years she wore a hair 
shirt; and for two years she has been in the habit of confessing every day, 
and of attending Communion three or four times a month." 

Note 257, page 142. Giovanni's son Alessandro Gonzaga was bom in 
1497, and died in 1527. 

Note 258, page 142. GlACOMO d'Atri (or d'Adria Picena) was made Count 
373 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of PlANELLA by Ferdinand II of Naples in 1496, as a reward for faithful service. 
He acted as confidential secretary to the Marquess Gianfrancesco of Mantua 
in various wars, and especially in the campaigns against Charles VIII. 

Note 259, page 143. Philip II of Macedon, the conqueror of Greece, was 
born 382 and died 336 B.C. 

Note 260, page 143. This retort has by others been ascribed to a Florentine 
ambassador at Siena, and his name given as Guido del Pelagio. 

Note 261, page 144. MARIO DE' Maffei da Volterra, (born 1464; died 1537), 
occupied successively the offices of Archpriest at Volterra, Sacristan of the 
Vatican, Bishop of Aquino, and Bishop of Cavaillon in France. 

Note 262, page 144. Agostino Bevazzano or Beazzano, {flor. 1500-1550), 
was born at Treviso, near Venice, of which republic his ancestor Francesco 
had been chancellor in the 15th century. His own portrait hung in the Grand 
Council Chamber at Venice. He lived some time in Venice, but in 1514 he was 
employed as secretary by Bembo and sent to Leo X at Rome, where he resided 
chiefly until 1526. Besides being a noted writer of Italian and Latin verse, he 
acquired great skill in public affairs and came to be regarded as an oracle at 
the papal court. Late in life he was painfully afflicted with gout, and passed 
the last years of his life at Verona and at Treviso, where he died and was 
buried in the cathedral. 

Note 263, page 145. The MARQUESS Federico Gonzaga of Mantua, (born 
1440; died 1484), was the son of the Marquess Ludovico and Barbara of Bran- 
denburg, and married Margarita, daughter of Duke Albert III of Bavaria. 
His family attained sovereign power at Mantua in 1354 and continued to 
exercise it for nearly four centuries. Having succeeded to the marquisate on 
the death of his father in 1478, he expelled from Italy the Swiss who were 
besieging Lugano, joined the Milanese in a league against the pope in 1479, 
and in 1482 joined another league against Venice. He is said to have com- 
mitted suicide. 

Note 264, page 145. NiccOLb Leonico Tomeo, (born 1456; died 1531), was 
a native of Venice, and belonged to an Albanian family. He studied Greek 
under Chalcondylas at Florence, and for many years taught philosophy at 
Padua, being the first Italian to expound Aristotle from the original text. He 
wrote philosophical and moral dialogues and also some Italian verse. His 
friend Bembo wrote of him: "An illustrious philosopher both in life and 
learning, equally versed in Latin and Greek, wherein he lived and dwelt, leav- 
ing ambition and thirst for riches to others." He was also a wit. 

Note 265, page 145. Agostino Foglietta, (died 1527), was a Genoese noble- 
man, who exercised great authority at Rome under Leo X and Clement VII. 

374 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

He was a warm friend of Castiglione, who received cordial aid from him in 
the efforts that were made on behalf of Francesco Maria della Rovere. He 
was slain in the sack of Rome by a shot from an arquebuse. In other MS. 
versions of THE COURTIER the names of Fedra (Tommaso Inghirami) and 
Antonio di Tommaso appear in place of Foglietta's. 

Note 266, page 146. GIOVANNI Dl Cardona was a Spanish soldier in the 
service of the "Great Captain" and of Cesare Borgia. He had a brother Ugo 
(mentioned at page 147, see note 271) and another brother Pedro, who was 
Count of Gosilano. Giovanni seems to have fallen at the battle of Ravenna 
in 1512. 

Note 267, page 146. Of Alfonso Santacroce nothing more is known than 
is contained in this mention of him in the text 

Note 268, page 146. Francesco Alidosi, CARDINAL OF Pavia, (died 1511), 
was descended from the Lords of Imola, being the second son of the Lord 
of Castel del Rio. Having been educated for the Church, he attached himself 
to Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, whose lasting gratitude he won by stead- 
fastly refusing to poison the cardinal at the desire of Alexander VI. On the 
accession of Julius II, he was rapidly promoted in spite of the objections 
raised in the consistory on the score of his questionable character. He was 
made Bishop of Miletus, Bishop of Pavia, a cardinal (1505), Legate of the 
Patrimony, Legate of Romagna, and Archbishop of Bologna. In these offices 
he proved violently tyrannical and a ruthless and bloody persecutor, especially 
of the Bolognese partisans of the Bentivogli; so that the city rose against him 
in 1511 and drove him out. His assassination by young Francesco Maria 
della Rovere has been already mentioned (see note 3). The odium connected 
with his name finds an echo also in another passage in the text, page 151. 

Note 269, page 146. Alfonso I of Naples, (born 1385; died 1458), succeeded 
his father Ferdinand the Just as King of Aragon and Sicily in 1416, and in 
1435 managed to enforce against Ren^ of Provence his double claim to Naples, 
based upon his descent from the former Hohenstauffen rulers of that kingdom, 
and also upon his adoption as heir by the last Angevin queen of Naples. 
Scholarly, enlightened, generous and benevolent, he was the ideal type of 
royal Maecenas and the hero of his century. He often went afoot and alone 
about his capital, saying that "a father, walking amid his children, has naught 
to fear." On one occasion when a galley full of soldiers and sailors was about 
to sink, and the men he had ordered to their rescue were hesitating, he leaped 
into a skiff, crying, "I prefer to be the companion rather than a spectator of 
their death." When Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks in 1453, 
he welcomed learned refugees to his capital; his court was a meeting-place for 
the savants of his time; and even when engaged in war, his captains might be 
seen gathered near their king, listening to his exposition of Livy instead of 
wasting their leisure at games of chance. He was noted also for his gentle 

375 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

disposition and merry humour and seems to have deserved his title of "the 
Magnanimous." 

Note 270, page 147. The battle of Cerignola (a town in Apulia near Cannae, 
the scene of one of Hannibal's victories) was fought 28 April 1503, between the 
Spanish army under the " Great Captain" and the French forces of Louis XII, 
and resulted in the defeat of the latter with the loss of more than half their 
men. 

Note 271, page 147. Ugo DI Cardona, a brother of the Giovanni already 
mentioned, was a Spanish soldier who fought under Cesare Borgia and the 
" Great Captain," and was killed by the hand of Francis I at the battle of 
Pavia in 1525. 

Note 272, page 147. This is a corruption of the name of St. Erasmus, a 
Syrian bishop who suffered martyrdom about 304, and became a favourite 
saint among the sailors on the Mediterranean. His name is given to certain 
electrical phenomena often seen at sea and on land also. 

Note 273, page 147. OTTAVIANO Ubaldini, (died 1498), was the son of a 
famous condottiere, Bernardino Ubaldini, and Aura di Montefeltro, a sister 
of Duke Federico. His father having died in 1437, he was bred at the court of 
Urbino and became the trusted counsellor of his uncle Federico, who left to 
him the guardianship of the young duke, Guidobaldo. To personal valour and 
address in statecraft he united (if we may trust the rhymed chronicle of 
Raphael's father) a knowledge of classic literature, and a taste for music and 
the other fine arts. He is known to have been a zealous cultivator of astrology. 
By some writers Duke Federico (the circumstances of whose birth were not 
free from mystery) was believed to have been an Ubaldini, and this Ottaviano 
was openly regarded as his brother. 

Note 274, page 147. Antonello da Forli was a soldier of fortune who 
died before May 1488, and of whom little seems to be known apart from this 
anecdote. It is found also in two other books, where the witty Florentine is 
named as Cosimo de' Medici. 

Note 275, page 147. San Leo was a fortress perched on an almost inaccessi- 
ble crag eighteen miles north-west of Urbino. It is mentioned by Dante 
{Pttrgatorio, iv, 25) and also by Machiavelli (Art of W^ar, iv) as a place of great 
natural strength. When in the spring of 1502 Cesare Borgia disclosed his 
hostile designs against Duke Guidobaldo, the latter, knowing that he could 
not hold out at Urbino, retired to San Leo, but Soon afterwards fled in the 
garb of a peasant, and the castle was surrendered. In the same year, however, 
it was recaptured by stratagem. In the spring of 1503 it was besieged by the 
adherents of Borgia, and bravely defended for six months by Ottaviano Fregoso 
and the castellan Lattanzio da Bergamo (referred to in the text), in the hope 

376 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of succour from Guidobaldo, who had taken refuge at Venice. Cian says that 
the place at last fell and was not again recovered by Guidobaldo until after 
the death of Alexander VI. On the other hand Dennistoun (ii, 13) asserts that 
by a reinforcement of twenty-five men the castle was enabled to hold out until 
Guidobaldo's restoration; he assigns the incident in the text to the first cap- 
ture (1502), gives the name of the castellan as Scarmiglione da Foglino, and 
affirms that the surrender was treacherous. 

Note 276, page 147. Duke Valentino, i.e. Cesare Borgia, Duke of Valen- 
tinois, (born 1478; died 1507), was an openly acknowledged son of Cardinal 
Roderigo Borgia (afterwards Alexander VI) by Rosa Vanozza, who was the 
mother also of Cesare's sister Lucrezia. Created a cardinal on his father's 
accession, he procured the murder of his brother Giovanni in 1497, resigned 
his cardinalate the same year, was given the French duchy of Valentinois in 
1498, and married Charlotte d'Albret, daughter of the King of Navarre, in 1499. 
Having been created Duke of Romagna by his father in 1501, he proceeded to 
reduce the various fiefs comprised within his intended domain, including the 
duchy of Urbino. After the death of Alexander VI, Cesare was held in cap- 
tivity by Julius II and by Ferdinand the Catholic, escaped to his father-in-law's 
court in 1506, and fell in battle the following year, the very day after the close 
of the Courtier dialogues. Handsome, accomplished and subtle, he was a 
patron of learning and an adept in the cruel and perfidious politics of his day. 
Upon his public career is founded the famous Principe of Machiavelli, who 
says: "If all the duke's achievements are considered, it will be found that he 
built up a great superstructure for his future power; nor do I know what pre- 
cepts I could furnish to a prince better than such as are to be derived from 
his example." 

Note 277, page 148. Literally: "It must be believed to have been in despair." 

Note 278, page 148. PUBLius CORNELIUS SCIPIO Nasica (Scipio with the 
pointed nose), was an eminent Roman jurist who was Consul in 191 B.C., 
and own cousin of Scipio Africanus the Elder. 

Note 279, page 148. Alonso Carillo is said by Cian to have been one of 
the many Spaniards who lived at Rome in the service of popes and cardinals 
belonging to that nation. The Spanish annotator Fabid identifies him as a 
son of Don Luis and Donna Costanza de Rivera. 

Note 280, page 148. My Lady Boadilla. Cian's identification of this lady 
as Beatriz Fernandez de Bobadilla, Marchioness of Moya, is confirmed by the 
fact that Boscan's translation (1534) gives her name as the Marchioness of 
Moya instead of 'my lady Boadilla.' She and her husband are warmly men- 
tioned in a codicil to Isabella the Catholic's will, as being among that queen's 
most dear and faithful friends. 

Note 281, page 149. In this passage, Antonio Ciccarelli's expurgated edition 
377 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

(1584) substitutes "a painter of antiquity" for Raphael, "certain Roman sena- 
tors" for the two cardinals, and Romulus and Remus for St. Peter and St. 
Paul. The picture in question has been identified as one painted by Raphael 
in 1513-14 for the church of San Silvestro. 

Note 282, page 149. ' Aught else . . . upon thy shoulders,' i.e., a head. The 
Cato referred to was probably MARCUS PORCIUS Cato Uticensis, (born 95 
B.C., died 46 B.C.), the Roman philosopher and patriot who espoused the 
cause of Pompey, and committed suicide on hearing of Caesar's victory at 
Thapsus. 

Note 283, page 150. This queen must have been Isabella the Catholic; see 
note 391. 

Note 284, page 150. Rafaello DE' Pazzi, (born 1471, died 1512), was a native 
of Florence, but was bred away from his home, doubtless owing to the pro- 
scription of his family for participation in the Pazzi conspiracy against Lo- 
renzo and Giuliano de' Medici. Having fought for Cesare Borgia and later for 
Julius II, he was captured by the French in 1511, and was slain the following 
year in the battle of Ravenna. 

Note 285, page 150. The Prior of Messina is now identified by Cian 
as a Spanish soldier, Don Pedro de Cuna, who was killed at the battle of 
Ravenna in 1512. 

Note 286, page 151. Of PAOLO TOLOSA nothing more is known than is con- 
tained in the text. 

Note 287, page 151. Like purple in Roman times, rose was the aristocratic 
colour at this period. Cosimo is reported by Machiavelli [Storia Fiorentina, 
vii, 6) to have said that "two ells of rose-coloured cloth make a man of 
quality." 

Note 288, page 151. Gianotto de' Pazzi is regarded by Cian as possibly 
identical with a certain Florentine, Giovanni de' Pazzi, who was born in 1476 
and died in 1528. 

Note 289, page 151. Of ANTONIO Rizzo nothin'g more is known than is con- 
tained in the text. 

Note 290, page 151. 'The renunciation of a benefice,' i.e. the notarial deed 
or testament by which a priest resigned his benefice or prebend in favour of 
someone else. 

Note 291, page 151. ANTONIO TORELLO, (died 1536), was private chamber- 
lain to Julius II and Leo X, who conferred a canonry and several prebends 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

upon him in 1514. In the briefs he is designated as a priest of the diocese of 
Foglino, and is given certain benefices there, which had fallen vacant on the 
death of another priest. We thus infer that Torello must have been familiar 
with the subject referred to in the text. He was made a Roman citizen.in 1530. 

Note 292, page 151. These two hunchbacks have not been identified. " The 
Wheel " [la Rtiota or Rota delta Giustisia, or simply la Rota) was the highest 
civil and criminal court of Rome prior to 1870. Its name may have originated 
in the circular arrangement of the judges' (auditors') seats (compare the hetni- 
cyclium of Cicero's time), or possibly in a wheel-shaped porphyry figure set in 
the pavement of the hall where they sat. The play is of course on the double 
meaning of the word torto, crooked, wrong. 

Note 293, page 151. Latino Giovenale de' Manetti, (born i486; died 
1553), was a native of Rome, and a canon of St. Peter's, but being of minor rank 
he had a wife and children. He held various offices, including that of Com- 
missary General of Roman Antiquities, and was employed in several papal 
embassies. A writer of Latin and Italian verse, he was a friend of Castiglione, 
Bembo and Bibbiena, and is mentioned in the autobiography of Cellini, who 
says that he "had a pretty big dash of the fool in him," — apparently because 
he presumed to improve one of the sculptor's designs for a crucifix. 

Note 294, page 152. Peralta is regarded by Cian as probably identical with 
a certain Captain Luijse Galliego de Peralta, who bore a letter (1521) from Cas- 
tiglione at Rome to the Marquess Federico of Mantua, then fighting against 
the French. In this letter Castiglione speaks of having known Peralta for 
years as "a man of character and a valiant." Cian regards him as identical 
also with a certain Colonel Peralta, whose death at the battle of Frosinone is 
mentioned (in a letter of 1526) among those of other Spaniards. 

MOLART is identified by Cian as the French soldier of fortune, " Molard," 
who commanded a battalion of Gascons at the battle of Ravenna (11 April 
1512), and who fell there bravely fighting by the side of Gaston de Foix. 

Aldana afterwards served under the Marquess of Mantua at Pavia in 1522, 
having been summoned (as was Castiglione also) from Rome at the head of 
his company. 

Note 295, page 152. The duel in question is thus described by Branth6me 
in his Discourse on Duels: "The Grand Master de Chaumont, the King's 
Lieutenant in the State of Milan, also allowed a duel to two Spaniards who 
had asked it of him. The name of one was Signor Peralta, who had formerly 
been in the King of France's service, . . . and the other Spaniard was called 
Captain Aldana. Their combat was on horse, a la genette (jennet), with 
rapier and dagger and three darts to each man. Peralta's second was 
another Spaniard, and Aldana's was the gentle Captain Molart. It had 
snowed so much that their encounter took place in the Piazza at Parma, from 
which the snow had been cleared, and there being no other barriers than the 

379 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

snow, each of the two combatants did his duty right well. And at last my 
lord de Chaumont, who had appointed the ground and was umpire, caused 
them to retire with equal honour." 

Note 296, page 152. Cian inclines to regard this Master Marcantonio as 
identical with a certain eccentric physician of the same name, who lived at 
Urbino and was the author of a fantastic law book and a long comedy. Of 
BOTTONE DA Cesena nothing more is known than is contained in the text. 

Note 297, page 152. 'Three sticks,' i.e., the gallows. 

Note 298, page 152. Of the three persons bearing the name Andrea Coscia 
and known to have lived at this time, it is uncertain which one is here 
referred to. 

Note 299, page 152. A MS. copy of The Courtier contains the following pas- 
sage: "Again a Venetian (forgive me, messer Pietro), coming to visit my lady 
Maddalena, sister to my lady Duchess, — as soon as he was near he offered her 
his hand, but without removing his cap. My lady Maddalena drew back a 
step, and drew back her hand too, saying: ' Gentle Sir, put on your cap; cover 
your head.' He still advanced and offered his hand; whereupon she replied: 
' I will never do it, unless you cover.' Thus the poor man was so put to shame 
that he at last removed his cap." Under similar circumstances Madame 
Bernhardt is said to have reproved Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) by 
feigning not to recognize him with his hat on. 

Note 300, page 152. My Lord Cardinal, i.e., Giovanni de' Medici, after- 
wards Leo X, (born 1475; died 1521). He was the second son of Lorenzo de' 
Medici and Clarice Orsini, and an elder brother of the Magnifico of The 
Courtier. Made a cardinal at the age of thirteen, and exiled from Florence 
with the rest of his family in 1494, he was present at the election of Alexander 
VI, of whose character he is said to have shown true appreciation at the time 
by remarking: "'We are in the wolf's jaws; he will gulp us down, unless we 
make good our flight." During the reign of Julius II, he seems to have been 
subservient to that pontiff, and in 1511 was a member of the court of six cardi- 
nals which acquitted the young Duke of Urbino of the charge of murdering 
Cardinal Alidosi. The pontificates of Alexander and Julius had exhausted 
Italy with wars, and the Christian world, weary of their scandalous violence, 
hailed with relief the accession of the cultivated and seemingly gentle young 
prelate, Giovanni de' Medici. Of his reign, — so brilliant in art and letters, so 
disastrous to the Church, — it is enough to say that the key is found in the 
famous phrase with which, on his elevation to the Chair of St. Peter, he greeted 
his brother Giuliano: "Let us enjoy the Papacy, since God hath given it us." 
To him the immortality of the soul was an open topic for debate, while he 
regarded sound Latinity and a ready tongue as more important than true doc- 
trine and pure living. Sincerely zealous for the diffusion of liberal knowledge, 
he was extravagantly munificent to artists, scholars and authors. Like all his 

380 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

family, after the first Cosimo, he was a poor financier, and on his sudden death 
he was found to have pawned the very jewels of his tiara. His reckless 
expenditure led to the sale of indulgences, and thus in no small degree to the 
progress of the Reformation. 

Note 301, page 153. Biagino Crivello was one of Duke Ludovico Sforza's 
captains, and is mentioned (July 1500) in a list of Sforza adherents who had 
rebelled against Louis XII, and whose possessions were declared forfeit. The 
list speaks of him as keeping himself at Mantua and in Venetian territory, and 
as owning no attachable property in the Milanese. In April of the same year 
an ineffectual demand had been made upon the Marquess of Mantua for the 
surrender of Crivello and other chiefs of the Sforza party. 

Note 302, page 153. THE Duke, i.e., Ludovico Sforza, " II Moro," (born 
1451; died 1508), was the fourth son of the Francesco Sforza whom Duke Fed- 
erico of Urbino had helped to become Duke of Milan (and whose father, a 
peasant condottiere, Muzio Attendolo, became known as Sforza by reason of 
great personal strength), — and of Bianca Maria, a daughter of the last Vis- 
conti duke of Milan. Early noted for his physical and mental qualities, 
Ludovico read and wrote Latin fluently, had a tenacious memory, and was a 
ready speaker. He was tall and of strongly marked features. Unlike his 
horrible brother Galeazzo Maria, he shunned bloodshed. Banished from 
Milan after his brother's assassination in 1476, he returned in triumph in 1479, 
and assumed the guardianship of his nephew Giangaleazzo, for whom he chose 
as bride his sister's child, Isabella (see note 396), daughter of Alfonso II of 
Naples. Having first sought the hand of Isabella d'Este (see note 397), — who 
was already betrothed to the Marquess of Mantua, — in 1491 he married her 
younger sister Beatrice (see note 398), whose influence is by some said to have 
led him to aggravate the humiliation of his young nephew and niece, the 
rightful duke and duchess. Being threatened by the latter's father, the King 
of Naples, Ludovico invited Charles VIII to enter Italy (1494) and assert the 
Angevine claim to Naples. His unhappy nephew died the same year, not 
without suspicion of having been poisoned by the uncle's order, v/ho thereupon 
assumed the title as well as the despotic power of duke. Becoming alarmed 
at the rapid success of the French in Italy, he joined the league formed 
against them, and was afterwards punished for his treachery by being 
expelled from Milan by Louis XII and carried to France. It is said that at 
the time of his capture, the only favour he asked was to be allowed the use of 
a volume of Dante. He died a prisoner in the Castle of Loches, where, after a 
vain effort to escape, he was confined in an underground dungeon. At the 
height of his prosperity his revenues exceeded those of any Italian state 
except Venice. Policy and also his natural taste for intellectual pleasures led 
him to copy the Medici in their patronage of art and letters. He aspired to 
make his capital a modern Athens, and sought to attract men of fame and 
talent from far and wide. Both Leonardo da Vinci and the architect Bra- 
mante were in his pay. 

381 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 303, page 153. Cervia is a little town on the Adriatic (between Ravenna 
and Rimini). A Dominican, Tommaso Cattanei, was bishop of the diocese 
from i486 to 1509. The pope referred to in the text was Julius II. 

Note 304, page 155. • Montefiore Inn' was a proverbial expression for a bad 
hostelry. The rustic inns of Italy at this period were usually wretched and 
for the most part kept by Germans. 

Note 305, page 156. One Andrea Castillo was secretary to Leo X, and 
died in 1545. 

Note 306, page 156. Cian identifies this CARDINAL BORGIA as the Francesco 
(born 1441; died 151 1) who was raised to the purple by Alexander VI, and was 
known as a schismatic. 

Note 307, page 156. The modern form of ballatore is ballerino. Although 
the distinction is not free from doubt, there seems to be reason for believing 
that danzare was the term applied to the more stately forms of dance, while 
ballare was reserved for more animated movements. See note 147. 

Note 308, page 157. The Bergamasque v^as and still is regarded as the 
rudest and most rustic of the Italian dialects. 

Note 309, page 157. Except as applied to a small Tuscan stream or torrent 
(flowing near Acquapendente and Orvieto, and finally tributary to the Tiber), 
the name Paglia does not occur in modern Italian geography. In his autobi- 
ography, Cellini mentions crossing the little stream on his first journey from 
Siena to Rome. Later in the i6th century, Montaigne records (in his diary of 
a trip into Italy) having spent the night at "La Faille" (Italian, Paglia), and 
describes it as "a small village of five or six houses at the foot of several 
barren and ill-favoured mountains." 

Note 310, page 157. They seem to have been playing primero (the modern 
primiera), a game much in vogue at this time. 

Note 311, page 158. Loreto is a small hill town near Ancona, and is cele- 
brated for its pilgrimage shrine of the Sacred House {Santa Casa), which was 
reputed to have been the veritable dwelling of the Virgin, miraculously trans- 
ported by angels from Nazareth, and set down in Italy in 1294. In 1511 and 
again in 1524 Castiglione wrote to his mother that he was preparing to go to 
Our Lady of Loreto in fulfilment of a vow. The name was said to be derived 
from that of the widow upon whose land the house was deposited by the 
angels. 

Note 312, page 158. Acquapendente is the name of a small town sixty-seven 
miles north-west of Rome. 

382 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 313, page 159. MONSIGNOR OF San Pietro ad Vincula was the 
title of Cardinal Galeatto della Rovere; see note 189. 

Note 314, page 159. MONSIGNOR OF Aragon was the title of Cardinal Lu- 
dovico of Aragon, (born 1474), a natural son of Ferdinand I of Naples, and a 
half-brother of Alfonso II (see note 31) and Federico III of Naples (see note 
401). He was not elevated to the purple until 1519; Castiglione's mention of 
him as a cardinal in dialogues supposed to take place twelve years earlier, 
doubtless arose from a natural confusion between the time when and the time 
of which they were written. 

Note 315, page 159. 'The Banchi' (Banks) was the name of a street in Rome 
well known in the 15th and i6th centuries. Containing the offices of the papal 
Curia and magistrates, it became a preferred neighbourhood, and was en- 
riched with fine buildings, among which was the counting-house of Julius 
II's finance minister, Agostino Chigi, the greatest banker of his day. 

Note 316, page 159. 'The Chancery' (Cancelleria) was at this time used 
for public offices and as the residence of Cardinal Galeotto della Rovere. In 
the Rassegna d'Arte, 1902, pp, 69-71, E. Bernich discusses the question as to 
who was its architect. 

Note 317, page 159. San Celso was the name of a street and church near the 
Banks. The saint (Celsus) whose memory is thus perpetuated was born at 
what is now Cimiez, near Nice, suffered martyrdom at Rome under Nero, and 
was finally put to death (together with his master, St. Nazarius) at Milan in 
the year 6g. 

Note 318, page 160. Cesare Beccadello is regarded by Cian as possibly 
identical with a certain Bolognese, who was the son of Domenico Maria Bec- 
cadello, married Landomia Fasanini, and was living at the papal court as late 
as 1559. The Spanish annotator Fabid suggests that he was the father (1502) 
of the author Ludovico Beccadello, who was a follower of Bembo and wrote 
biographies of Petrarch and others. 

Note 319, page 161. These are characters occurring in the third, sixth and 
ninth tales of the Eighth Day, and in the fifth tale of the Ninth Day. 

Note 320, page 161. This knavish student seems to be identical with a 
certain Caio Caloria Ponzio, who was born at Messina. Of his life little 
more is known than that he studied law at Padua between 1479 and 1488, and, 
after residing two years at Venice, returned to Sicily. For an account of a 
short poem by him in praise of Venice, and of his dialect comedy dedicated to 
the Marquess of Mantua, see Vittorio Rossi's Caio Caloria Ponsio, e la poesia 
ziolgnrc Ictteraria di Sicilia nel Secolo XV, reprinted (Palermo, 1893) from the 
Archimo Storico Siciliano, N. S., A., xviii. 

383 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 321, page 161. The only belfry at Padua answering to this description 
is said to be that of San Giacomo. 

Note 322, page 162. GONNELLA, This name was borne by two famous 
jesters employed by the d'Este family. The one here referred to was probably 
the later of the two, who lived at the courts of Dukes Niccold III and Borso, 
was the son of a Florentine glover Bernardo (jonnella, and married one Checca 
Lapi. The next buffoon referred to was probably LUDOVICO Meliolo, who 
acted as steward to the court of Mantua about 1500, and was a brother of the 
goldsmith and sculptor Bartolommeo Meliolo (1448-1514). He was called "the 
father of jests." 

Note 323, page 163. This is an instance of the use of the word calunnia 
(rendered 'imputation') in its primitive sense of malicious accusation with- 
out reference to truth or falsity. 

Note 324, page 164. These characters occur in the sixth tale of the Third 
Day, and in the seventh and eighth tales of the Seventh Day of Boccaccio's 
" Decameron." 

Note 325, page 164. The queen here mentioned is of course Isabella the 
Catholic; see note 391. 

Note 326, page 164. Fabi6 says that this COUNTESS OF Castagneta was 
Brazaida de Almada, daughter of a Portuguese cavalier Juan Baez de Almada 
and Violante de Castro (of the same nation). She was a lady-in-waiting to 
Queen Isabella, and her husband Don Garci Fernandez Manrique (third Count 
of Castagneta and first Marquess of Aguilar) took part in the conquest of 
Granada. 

Note 327, page 167. If unconvinced by the "Decameron," readers of the 
Corbaccio will surely be persuaded of the justice of this opinion. 

Note 328, page 167. According to one form of the legend of Orpheus, his 
grief at the final loss of his wife Eurydice, when his lyre had all but enabled 
him to recover her from Hades, led him to treat contemptuously the Thracian 
women, who avenged the insult by tearing him in pieces under the excitement 
of their Bacchanalian orgies. 

Note 329, page 167. ' Braccesque leave' (««« liccntia bracciesca in the 
Aldine folio of 1528, and una licentia Bracciesca in the more correctly printed 
Aldine folio of 1545) is a phrase derived from the name of Braccio Fortebracci, 
a captain who was famous for his violence to friend and foe, and whose fol- 
lowers were called Bracceschi. To give a man Braccesque leave meant to 
dismiss him with blows. 

Note 330, page 169. Although in this and a few other passages, Castiglione 

384 



NOTES TO THE SECOND BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

uses virth in the sense of our " virtue," he more often gives it its etymological 
meaning of " manliness," which the present translator has generally rendered 
by "worth." In considering a word like this, we must take into account the 
character of him who uses it. To Machiavelli, as no doubt to most of his 
contemporaries in Italy, virtii meant simply that combination of strength, 
courage, tenacity and cunning that enables a man to achieve his ends, — 
whether good or bad. 



385 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 331, page 171. Achaia, here used as synonymous with Greece, was the 
name given to that country when conquered by the Romans and made a 
province. Olympia was not in Achaia proper, but in the adjoining district of 
Elis, some forty miles south of the modern Patras. The site has been thor- 
oughly excavated by German archaeologists, the most noted discovery being 
that of the " Hermes " of Praxiteles and the " Victory " of Paeonius. 

Note 332, page 172. That is to say, nude. According to the familiar Greek 
myth, Eris (goddess of discord), to avenge her exclusion from the nuptials of 
Peleus and Thetis, threw among the wedding guests a golden apple inscribed 
"To the Fairest." A dispute arising between Aphrodite, Hera and Athena 
concerning the apple, Zeus appointed the shepherd Paris to decide their 
claims. The prize having been awarded to Aphrodite, she aided Paris to 
carry off the beautiful Helen of Sparta, and thus gave rise to the Trojan 
War. 

Note 333, page 173. The Order of St. Michael was instituted in August 
1469, by Louis XI of France, and was highly esteemed down to Castiglione's 
time, but later suffered in estimation, owing to the freedom with which mem- 
bership was bestowed. Francis I wore the insignia of the order at the battle 
of Pavia, 1525. 

Note 334, page 173. The Order of the Garter was instituted by Edward III 
of England in 1344. He assigned to its use the chapel (at Windsor) of St. 
George, who was its patron saint. Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino having, like his 
father, been made a knight of the order, Castiglione went to England in 1506 to 
receive the insignia on the duke's behalf. 

Note 335, page 173. The Order of the Golden Fleece was instituted by Duke 
Philip the Good of Burgundy (paternal grandfather of Charles V's paternal 
grandmother) in 1429 in honour of his third marriage, to Elizabeth of Portugal. 
Its badge, a golden ram, is shown in the portraits of Charles V and Maxi- 
milian I, given in the first (1901) edition of this translation. 

Note 336, page 173. The king of Persia at this time was Ismail Sufi I, (born 
1480; died 1524). He was descended from a family of noted piety, whose 
peculiar beliefs became the origin of the national Persian faith. Having been 
proclaimed shah in 1499, after nearly a century of disorderly government by 
the successors of Timur the Tartar, he spent most of his reign in enlarging 
and assuring his dominions, and founded the dynasty that was to rule Persia 

387 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

until 1736. He waged an unsuccessful war with Selim I of Turkey, the son and 
successor of Bajazet II, and died while on a pilgrimage to his own father's 
tomb. His subjects revered him as a saint. 

Note 337, page 174. The ' Lady whom I know' is of course the Duchess. 

Note 338, page 175. Pygmalion will be remembered as the legendary 
sculptor-king of Cyprus, who fell in love with an ivory statue that he had 
made of a beautiful girl, and prayed to Aphrodite to breathe life into it. His 
prayer being granted, he married the girl, who was called Galatea. 

Note 339, page 181. The opinions here ascribed to Plato, are found in the 
Fifth Book of his " Republic," but seem to have undergone serious change 
when he wrote his " Laws." 

Note 340, page 182. The comparative merits of man and woman were much 
discussed in Greek antiquity and during the Renaissance, and form the sub- 
ject of a copious literature in which Castiglione's contribution occupies no 
unimportant place. 

Note 341, page 184. The reference here is to a fragment of the so-called 
Orphic Hymns, beginning: "Jove the End, Jove the Beginning, Jove the 
Middle, all things are of Jove: Jove Male, Immortal Virgin Jove." In this and 
other respects the theogony to which the name of Orpheus is attached, is 
closely related to the most ancient religious systems of India. 

Note 342, page 185. The author probably refers to Aristotle's Tenth 
Problem. 

Note 343, page i88. The reference here is doubtless to Jerome's 54th Epistle 
(on Widowhood), and to his first tract against Jovinianus, both written about 
394 A.D. He was born in what is now the Hungarian town of Stridon about 
340, and died in a monastery at Bethlehem 420 A.D. Perhaps his best re- 
membered work is the Vulgate or Latin translation of the Bible. 

Note 344, page i8g. " If not chastely, then discreetly." 

Note 345, page 190. OCTAVIA, (born 70; died 11 B.C.), was a great-niece of 
Julius Caesar, and became the second wife of the triumvir Mark Antony 
for the purpose (ultimately vain) of cementing the alliance between him and 
her brother Augustus. Her beauty, accomplishments and virtues proved 
unavailing against the wiles of Cleopatra, who induced Antony to divorce her. 
After Antony's death, she remained true to the interests of his children, includ- 
ing those by his first wife and by Cleopatra. Through the two daughters that 
she bore to Antony, she became the grandmother of the Emperor Claudius, 
and great-grandmother of his predecessor Caligula and of his successor Nero. 

388 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 346, page 190. PORCIA'S first husband was Marcus Bibulus, who was 
Consul with Caesar in 59 B.C. She inherited her father's republican princi- 
ples, courage and firm will, and was her second husband Brutus's confidante in 
the conspiracy against Caesar. On his death at Philippi in 42 B.C., she put an 
end to her life. 

Note 347, page 190. Caia Cecilia Tanaquil appears in Roman legend as 
the second wife of King Tarquinius Priscus, endowed with prophetic powers, 
closely connected with the worship of the hearth-deity, expert in healing, and 
a model of domestic virtues. The traditional date of her husband's reign is 
616-578 B.C. 

Note 348, page 190. CORNELIA, the mother of the Gracchi (born about 189 
B.C.; died about no B.C.), wrote letters that had survived in Cicero's day and 
were prized for their style. Even in her own lifetime the Romans erected a 
statue in honour of her virtues. Left a widow with twelve young children, 
she devoted herself wholly to their training, and rejected all offers of marriage, 
including that of Ptolemy. 

Note 349, page 191. Plutarch (from whose history the narrative in the text is a 
paraphrase) describes ALEXANDRA as being actuated in her regency solely by 
ambitious motives. Her husband, Alexander Jannaeus, was the son of Johan- 
nes Hyrcanus and brother of Aristobulus I, whom he succeeded as second 
King of the Jews after the Babylonish Captivity. His reign (104-78 B.C.) was 
marked by atrocities. 

Note 350, page 191. The reference here is to Mithridates VI, Eupator, 
King (120-63 B.C.) of Pontus on the southern shore of the Black Sea. In the 
Life of Lucullus, Plutarch relates that having been utterly defeated by the 
Romans in 72 B.C., Mithridates gave order to have his wives Bernice and 
Monima put to death together with his sisters Statira and Roxana, in order to 
prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy, — while he himself 
took refuge with his son-in-law. Statira is described by Plutarch as grateful 
to her brother for not forgetting her amid his own anxieties, and for providing 
her the means of an honourable death. 

Note 351, page 191. This Hasdrubal was the general of the Carthaginians 
in their last struggle with Rome. When Scipio captured Carthage in 146 B.C., 
Hasdrubal surrendered, while it is said that his wife, after upbraiding him for 
his weakness, flung herself and her children into the flames of the burning 
temple in which they had sought shelter. 

Note 352, page 191. In fact, Harmonia was Hiero's granddaughter, and the 
wife of a Syracusan named Themistus, who (after the death of Hiero in 215 
B.C.) was chosen one of the leaders of the commonwealth and afterwards 
perished m a fresh revolution. Death was then decreed against all surviving 

389 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

members of Hiero's family, and Harmonia was slain together with her aunts, 
Demarata and Heraclea. 

Note 353, page 192. The reference is of course to the familiar story of the 
obstinate dame who persisted in declaring that a certain rent had been made 
with scissors, and whose husband vainly tried to change her mind by plunging 
her in a pond. Each time she came to the surface, she cried " Scissors," until, 
unable to speak from strangulation, she stretched forth her hand and made 
the sign of the instrument with two fingers. In a coarser form, the story was 
current in Italy even before Castiglione's time. 

Note 354, page 192. The conspiracy in question was discovered in 65 A.D. 
Tacitus relates that Epicharis strangled herself with her girdle while on the 
way to be tortured a second time. 

Note 355, page 192. Le/ena was an Athenian hetaira beloved by Aristo- 
geiton. When he and Harmodius had slain the tyrant Hipparchus in 514 
B.C., she was supposed to be privy to their plan, and died under torture. The 
statue in question is mentioned by Pausanias and said by Plutarch (in his 
essay on Garrulity) to have been placed " upon the gates of the Acropolis." 
Recent archaeologists identify its site as being on the level of the Acropolis, 
near the southern inner corner of the Propylaea. 

Note 356, page 192. Massilia became the modern Marseilles. 

Note 357, page 192. This story is taken from the " Memorable Doings and 
Sayings" of Valerius Maximus (^<?/'. 25 A.D.), in which Castiglione mistrans- 
lates the Latin word publice (at the public charge) as publicamente (publicly). 

Note 358, page 192. Of several persons of this name, the one here referred to 
was probably the Roman Consul (14 A.D.), — a patron of literature and a friend 
of Ovid. Had the Magnifico been allowed to finish his sentence, he would 
(following the narrative of Valerius Maximus) have doubtless added the name 
of a town in Asia Minor, Julida. 

Note 359, page 195. This story (which was used by Tennyson for his play 
of "The Cup") is found in Plutarch's tract "Concerning ^A^omen's Virtue," 
where the scene is placed in Galatia, in Asia Minor. 

Note 360, page 197. The number of the Sibyls is usually reckoned as ten: 
Persian (or Babylonian), Libyan, Phrygian, Delphian, Cimmerian, Erythraean, 
Samian, Trojan, Tiburtine, and Cumaean, — of which the last was the most 
famous. 

Note 361, page 197. Aspasia, [flor. 440 B.C.), was born at Miletus in Asia 
Minor, but in her youth removed to Athens, where she was celebrated for her 

390 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

talents and beauty, and became the mistress of Pericles, one of whose orations 
she is said by Plato to have composed. Her house was the centre of intel- 
lectual society, and was even frequented by Athenian matrons and their 
husbands. 

Note 362, page 197. DiOTlMA was a probably fictitious priestess of Mantinea 
in the Peloponnesus, reputed to have been the instructress of Socrates. Her 
supposed opinions as to the origin, nature and objects of life, form the subject 
of Plato's " Symposium." 

Note 363, page 197. NICOSTRATE or Carmenta was a prophetic and healing 
divinity, supposed to be of Greek origin. Having tried to persuade her son 
Evander to kill his father Hermes, she fled with the boy to Italy, where she 
was said to have given the Roman form to the fifteen characters of the Greek 
alphabet that Evander introduced into Latium. 

Note 364, page 197. This 'preceptress ... to Pindar' was MYRTIS, a lyric 
poetess of the 6th century B.C. She is mentioned in a fragment by Corinna 
as having competed with Pindar. Statues were erected to her in various 
parts of Greece, and she was counted among the nine lyric muses. 

Note 365, page 197. Of PINDAR'S life little more is known than that he re- 
sided chiefly at Thebes, and that the dates of his birth and death were about 
522 and 443 B.C. respectively. Practically all his extant poems are odes in 
commemoration of victories in the public games. 

Note 366, page 197. The Greek poetess CORINNA (5th century B.C.) was a 
native of Tanagra in Boeotia. She is said to have won prizes five times in 
competition with Pindar. Only a few fragments of her verse remain. 

Note 367, page 197. Sappho flourished about 600 B.C., and seems to have 
been born and to have lived chiefly at Mitylene. She enjoyed unique renown 
among the ancients: on hearing one of her poems, Solon prayed that he might 
not see death before he had learned it; Plato called her the Tenth Muse; and 
Aristotle placed her on a par with Homer. For a recently discovered and in- 
teresting fragment of her verse, see the Egypt Exploration Fund's "Oxyrhyn- 
chus Papyri," Part I, p. 11. 

Note 368, page ig8. Castiglione here follows Plutarch. Pliny, on the other 
hand, affirms that Roman women were obliged to kiss their male relatives, in 
order that it might be known whether they had transgressed the law forbidding 
them to drink wine. 

Note 369, page 199. This paragraph is taken almost literally from Livy, ex- 
cepting the incident of the babies borne in arms, which Castiglione seems to 
have invented. 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 370, page 199. Titus Tatius was the legendary king of the Sabines. 
His forces were so strong that Romulus was driven back to the Saturnian 
Hill, which had previously been fortified and which became the site of the 
Capitol. The familiar story is to the effect that Tarpeia (daughter to the cap- 
tain of the fortress), being dazzled by the Sabines' golden bracelets, promised 
to betray the hill to them if they would give her the ornaments on their left 
arms. Accordingly she admitted the enemy at night, but when she claimed 
her reward, they threw down upon her the shields that they wore on the left 
arm, and thus crushed her to death. Her infamy is preserved in the name of 
the neighbouring Tarpeian Rock, from which traitors were flung down. 

Note 371, page 199. There is said to be no historical mention of any Roman 
temple to Venus Armata. Castiglione may have had in mind a passage in the 
"Christian Cicero" (Lactantius Firmianus, who wrote about 300 A.D.), record- 
ing the dedication by the Spartans of a temple and statue to the Armed Venus 
in memory of their women's brave repulse of a sudden attack by the Messenians 
during the absence of the Spartan army. 

Note 372, page 199. Calzia (bald) was one of the Roman Venus's most ancient 
epithets, under which she had two temples near the Capitol. Of the several 
explanations of this appellation, Castiglione seems to refer to the one which 
interprets it as the memorial of the Roman women's heroism in cutting off 
their hair to make bow-strings for the men during a siege by the Gauls. 

Note 373, page 200. In his life of Camillus (died 365 B.C.), Plutarch gives a 
legendary account of the origin of the Handmaidens' Festival. At a time 
when the Romans were ill prepared for war, the Latins sent to demand of 
them a number of free-born maidens in marriage. This was suspected as a 
trick to obtain hostages, but no method of foiling it was devised until Tutula, 
a slave girl, advised the magistrates to send her to the Latin camp along with 
some of the most beautiful handmaidens in rich attire. This was done, and at 
night, when her companions had stolen away the enemies' weapons, Tutula 
displayed a signal torch agreed on with the Romans, who at once sallied forth, 
easily captured the Latin camp, and put most of the enemy to the sword. 

Note 374, page 200. The Romans are said to have wearied of Cicero's self- 
praise for his suppression of the Cateline conspiracy (63 B.C.). The woman 
in question was a Roman patrician, Fulvia by name, who was the mistress of 
one of the conspirators and divulged the plot to Cicero. 

Note 375, page 200. This Demetrius (II) was grandson to the Demetrius I 
already mentioned (see note 136), and ruled over Macedonia from about 239 
to about 229 B.C. His son, Philip V (237-179 B.C.), joined Hannibal in a war 
against Rome, which finally ended in the downfall of the Macedonian mon- 
archy and the captivity of his son» and successor Perseus (167 B.C.). The 
incident mentioned in the text is narrated by Plutarch in his work on "Women's 

392 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Virtue," as also is the instance next cited by Castiglione, who however reverses 
the order of events. 

Note 376, page 200. Erythrae was an important city on the west coast of 
Asia Minor opposite Chios. The nearest approach to 'Leuconia' in ancient 
geography is the distant town Leuconum in what is now Slavonia, between 
the Danube and the Save. 

Note 377, page 201. Plutarch's version of this story adds that in honour of 
the Persian women's bravery on this occasion, Cyrus (559-529 B.C.) decreed 
that whenever the king returned from a long journey, each woman should 
receive a ring of gold. 

Note 378, page 201. One of Plutarch's minor ^vorks is entitled "Apothegms 
and Famous Sayings of Spartan W^omen," and Castiglione's contemporary 
Marcantonio Casanova wrote two Latin distiches on "The Spartan Mother 
Slaying Her Son." 

Note 379, page 201. Saguntum, the modern Murviedro, was a city of Greek 
origin on the eastern coast of Spain. After a desperate siege of nearly eight 
months, it was captured by Hannibal in 219 B.C. 

Note 380, page 201. The reference here is to the victory, at Vercelli near 
Milan, by which the Roman general Caius Marius repelled the advance of 
the Cimbri into Italy, loi B.C. The sacred fire (supposed to have been brought 
from Troy by ^Eneas as the symbol of Vesta, the hearth deity) was kept alive 
at Rome by six virgins. 

Note 381, page 202. Amalasontha, (498-535 A.D.), was the daughter of Theo- 
doric the Great, and regent of the East Gothic kingdom from his death in 526 
until her own. After a prosperous reign she is said to have been strangled by 
her cousin and second husband Theodatus, at the instigation of the Empress 
Theodora, the wife of Justinian. 

Note 382, page 202. Theodolinda, daughter of Duke Garibald of Bavaria, 
married (589 A.D.) Autharis, King of the Lombards, and on his death in the 
following year, she married Duke Agilulph of Turin, who was proclaimed king 
in 591. She died in 625, after exercising the regency in the name of her son. 
Her virtue, wisdom and beauty were extolled; she was active in her labours 
on behalf of Christianity ; and she carried on a correspondence with St. Gregory, 
who was pope from 590 to 604. 

Note 383, page 202. The Theodora here referred to is doubtless the wife, 
not of Justinian, but of Theophilus, Emperor of Constantinople 829-842. She 
died in 867, and was canonized by the Greek Church. 

Note 384, page 202. CouNTESS MATILDA, (1046-1115), one of the most famous 
393 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

heroines of the Middle Ages, was the daughter of Duke Boniface of Tuscany 
and Beatrice of Lorraine. She ruled over Tuscany and a large part of northern 
Italy, espoused the papal cause against the Emperor, and exercised an im- 
portant influence upon the politics of her time. She was noted also for her 
religious zeal, energy, and austere yet gentle and cultivated life. Count Ludo- 
vico's supposed descent from her paternal uncle Conrad is now regarded as 
doubtful. 

Note 385, page 202. Among the eminent women here referred to, we may 
note: Duke Guidobaldo's grandfather's wife, Caterina Colonna, (died 1438), who 
was a great-aunt of Vittoria Colonna, and was praised as " noble, beautiful, 
discreet, charming, gentle and generous"; his great-aunt Battista di Monte- 
feltro, (died 1450), who, having been deserted by her worthless Malatesta hus- 
band, wrote moral essays and poetry, and was celebrated for her piety and 
mental gifts, as well as for her learning and literary accomplishments; his 
aunt, Brigida Sueva di Montefeltro, (born 1428), who, after enduring for twelve 
years the brutalities of her Sforza husband, became an abbess and ultimately 
received the honour of beatification, — her remains being revered as a sacred 
relic; another aunt of his, Violante di Montefeltro, (born 1430), who was famous 
for her talents and beauty; his maternal grandmother, Costanza da Varano, 
(born 1428), was a granddaughter of the Battista above mentioned, inherited 
much of that lady's taste for learning, became the associate of scholars and 
philosophers, wrote Latin orations, epistles and poems, and (by her marriage 
to a brother of the first Sforza duke of Milan) became the mother of Duke 
Guidobaldo's own mother, Battista Sforza, (born 1446), who rivalled her an- 
cestresses' attainments, administered her husband's government judiciously 
during his frequent absences, and was regarded as beautiful, although tiny in 
person. 

Note 386, page 202. Perhaps the most famous woman of the Gonzaga 
family was "my lady Duchess's" great-aunt, Cecilia Gonzaga, (born 1425), 
who shared with her four brothers the tuition of the celebrated Vittorino da 
Feltre, wrote Greek with remarkable purity at the age of ten, became a nun at 
nineteen, devoted her life to religious and literary exercises, and was regarded 
as one of the most learned women of her time. Her niece (?), Barbara Gonzaga, 
(born about 1455), was educated with especial care, became Duchess of Wiirt- 
emberg, induced her husband to found the University of Tubingen, and ruled 
the duchy as regent after his death. 

Of the Este family, two aunts (Ginevra, born 1419, and Bianca Maria, born 
1440) of Isabella and Beatrice d'Este (see notes 397 and 398), were famous for 
their knowledge of Latin and Greek, in which languages the younger wrote 
both prose and verse, besides being an accomplished musician, dancer and 
needlewoman. 

Of the Pio family, Castiglione doubtless had in mind the celebrated Alda 
Pia da Carpi, who was a sister of Aldus's pupil and patron Alberto Pio, 

394 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

aunt of Count Ludovico Pio of The Courtier (see note 46), and mother of the 
still more celebrated poetess Veronica Gambara, (born 1485). 

Note 387, page 202. Anne de Bretagne, (born 1476; died 1514), was the 
daughter and heiress of Duke Francis II of Brittany, which became perma- 
nently united to the crown of France through her marriages to Charles VIII 
(1492) and Louis XII (1499). Castiglione's praise of her seems to have been in 
the main justified. Although sometimes vindictive, she was generous, virtuous 
beyond the standard of her time, and carried cultivation to the verge of 
pedantry. She surrounded herself with artists, historians, minstrels and 
poets, and formed a collection of MSS. and other precious objects, largely the 
spoils of her husbands' Italian campaigns. Branthfime called her "the 
worthiest and most honourable queen that has been since Queen Blanche, 
mother of the king St. Louis, and so wise and virtuous." 

Note 388, page 202. CHARLES VIII, (born 1470; died 1498), was the son of 
Louis XI and Charlotte of Savoy. Having succeeded his father in 1483, and 
assumed royal power in 1491, he married Anne of Brittany and soon set about 
enforcing his pretensions to the crown of Naples, transmitted to him through 
his father and cousin from Rend of Provence, to whom the last Angevine ruler 
had devised the kingdom in 1435. As we have seen, the immediate cause of 
the invasion of Italy (1494) was a request from Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan 
and Pope Alexander VI. Although the expedition was undertaken without 
adequate preparation and conducted with incredible foolhardiness, — continu- 
ous good fortune together with the mutual jealousies of Italian princes and 
the decadence of Italian military power enabled Charles to enter Milan, Flor- 
ence and Rome without hindrance, to seize Naples almost unopposed, and 
(when threatened by a powerful league formed against him) to retire north- 
wards, to defeat the Italians at Fornovo, and finally to reach France in safety, 
October 1495. His garrisons were driven from Naples in the following year, 
but his foray had the immediate result of expelling the Medici from Florence, 
and the far more important consequence of revealing to the rest of Europe the 
wealth and helplessness of Italy, — thus paving the way for the subsequent 
invasions with which the peninsula was scourged during the i6th Century. 
The remainder of Charles's life was given up to inglorious ease and pleasure. 
A son of the painter Mantegna thus describes him: "A very ill-favoured face, 
with great goggle eyes, an aquiline nose offensively large, and a head dis- 
figured by a few sparse hairs;" while Duke Ludovico Sforza said of him: "The 
man is young, and his conduct meagre, nor has he any form or method of 
council." His own ambassador, Commines, wrote: "He was little in stature 
and of small sense, very timid in speech, owing to the way in which he had 
been treated as a child, and as feeble in mind as he was in body, but the kindest 
and gentlest creature alive." 

Note 389, page 202. MARGARITA OF Austria, (born 1480; died 1530), was the 
daughter of the Emperor Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy, and a native 

395 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

of Brussels. Having been betrothed to the Dauphin Charles (VIII) and then 
rejected by that prince in favour of Anne of Brittany, she married (1497) the 
Infant Juan of Castile, but soon lost both husband and child. In 1501 she 
married Duke Filiberto of Savoy, and after four years of happiness again 
became a widow. In 1507 she was entrusted by her father with the govern- 
ment of the Low Countries and the care of her nephew Charles (see note 
462). She did much to further the progress of agriculture and commerce 
in her dominions, and besides showing a lofty spirit and no little political 
sagacity, she was a patroness of art and letters, and composed a great num- 
ber of poems in French, most of which are said to be lost. Her correspon- 
dence with her father has been published. 

Note 390, page 202. Maximilian I, Emperor of Germany, (born 1459; died 
1519), was the son of the Emperor Frederick III of Hapsburg and Eleanora of 
Portugal. In 1477 he married Charles the Bold's daughter and heiress, Mary 
of Burgundy, who bore him five children and died in 1482. On the death of 
his father in 1493, he was elected Emperor, and soon afterwards married 
Bianca Maria, niece of Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan. He was a member of 
the league that forced Charles VIII to retire from Italy (1495), of the League 
of Cambray against Venice (1508), and of the Holy League (1511) for the expul- 
sion of Louis XII from Italy. Although deriving little profit or honour from 
these and other foreign enterprises, he contrived by prudent marriages to add 
Bohemia and Hungary to his empire and to make Spain a possession of his 
family. He also effected many reforms in his government, and even founded 
several important institutions, such as a postal service and a permanent militia. 
From his youth he showed a taste for study, became a patron of scholars, 
poets and artists, and enriched the Universities of Vienna and Ingolstadt. 
Besides being an accomplished if not very successful soldier, he was the author 
of works on gardening, hunting and agriculture, as well as on military science. 

Note 391, page 202. Isabella the Catholic, (born 1451; died 1504), was 
the daughter and heiress of Juan II of Castile. Having been trained in retire- 
ment to habits of religious devotion, she married (1469) Ferdinand of Aragon, 
with whom she succeeded jointly to her father's crown in 1474, but was able to 
gain complete possession of her dominions only in 1479, the same year in 
which her husband succeeded his father as King of Aragon. Under her rule 
the Inquisition was established in Castile (1480), but she recoiled before its 
horrors and was reconciled to its continuance only by the direct assurance of 
Pope Sixtus IV. In 1481 began the long war, which (largely owing to her 
energy and perseverance) resulted in the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, 
and in which she is said to have organized the earliest military hospitals. 
The story of her noble patronage of Columbus is familiar. Her later years 
were clouded by the loss of two of her three children, including her only son, 
and by the unhappy conjugal life and mental disorder of her daughter, Juana, 
the mother of Charles V. Castiglione's praise of Isabella's lofty qualities is 
not a little justified by the facts of her life. In personal appearance, she is said 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

to have been agreeable rather than handsome; her features were regular, her 
green eyes vivacious, her complexion olive, her hair reddish blond, and her 
stature above the medium. 

Note 392, page 202. Ferdinand the Catholic, (born 1452; died 1516), was 
the son of Juan II of Navarre and Aragon, and is justly regarded as the 
founder of the Spanish monarchy. The means employed by him in building 
up his power were perfidy towards other rulers and ruthless oppression of his 
own people. Besides the other events of his reign, noted above, mention 
should be made of his cruel expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. These 
and his other persecutions, supposed at the time to be actuated by zeal for 
pure religion, were in fact chiefly a source of revenue, and the policy thus 
inaugurated, — of stifling the commerce, the industry, the free thought and the 
energy of the nation at the beginning of its greatness, — is now seen to have 
been one of the important causes of its decline. 

Note 393, page 204. Of these two remarkable queens, one was doubtless 
Federico Ill's widow, the Isabella del Balzo who is mentioned below (see 
note 400). The other may possibly have been her predecessor Joanna, the 
aunt and widow of Ferdinand II; or (more probably) Ippolita Maria, who was 
a daughter of the first Sforza duke of Milan and wife of Ferdinand II's father 
and predecessor Alfonso II, and of whom Dennistoun says (ii, 122): "It was for 
this princess that Constantine Lascaris composed the earliest Greek Gram- 
mar; and in the convent library of Sta. Croce at Rome there is a transcript by 
her of Cicero's De Senectute, followed by a juvenile collection of Latin apo- 
thegms curiously indicative of her character and studies." 

Note 394, page 204. Beatrice of Aragon, (born 1457; died 1508), was the 
daughter of Ferdinand I of Naples and Isabelle de Clermont. In 1476 she 
married Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary. On his death in 1490, she mar- 
ried Ladislas II of Bohemia, who for a time prevented the succession of Mat- 
thias's natural son John. However the youth attained the Hungarian throne 
with the aid of the Emperor Maximilian; whereupon Beatrice was repudiated 
by Ladislas and her marriage was annulled by Alexander VI. In 1501 she 
returned to Italy, resided at Ischia and died childless. Like her elder sister, 
the Duchess Eleanora of Ferrara (see note 399), she was a ■woman of culti- 
vation and taste, and in spite of her political intrigues, she is. praised for 
having done much to strengthen the intellectual bonds between Italy and 
Hungary, to which country she invited Italian poets, scholars and artists. 

Note 395, page 204. MATTHIAS CORVINUS, (born 1443; died 1490), was the 
son of the famous Hungarian general Janos Hunyadi, and in 1458 was pro- 
claimed King of Hungary by the soldiers whom his father had so often led to 
victory. His life was a nearly continuous series of great enterprises, among 
the most noted of which were his campaigns agamst the Turks and his siege 
and capture (1485) of Vienna, where he thereafter resided chiefly and died. By 

397 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

no means the least part of his fame v^as won by the ardour with which he 
advanced the cause of science, art and letters in his country, and bestowed 
upon his people not only an enlightened code of laws but also the benefits of 
Renaissance culture. He introduced printing into Hungary, and was the 
founder of a magnificent public library at Buda Pest, containing fifty thou- 
sand volumes, for the most part MSS. which he caused to be copied in Italy 
and the East. 

Note 396, page 204. Isabella of Aragon, (born 1470; died 1524), was the 
daughter of Alfonso II of Naples and Ippolita Maria, daughter of the first 
Sforza duke of Milan. In 1489 she made a splendid entry into Milan as the 
bride of her own cousin Giangaleazzo Sforza, whose rights as duke were 
gradually usurped by his uncle Ludovico il Moro. This usurpation has been 
regarded as partly due to the ambition of Ludovico's young wife, Beatrice 
d'Este (see note 398), who could not endure the precedence rightfully belong- 
ing to Isabella. As has been seen, it was to protect himself against the wrath 
of Isabella's father and grandfather, that Ludovico invited Charles VIII into 
Italy as his ally. 'When Charles reached Pavia, he had to endure the pathetic 
spectacle of his forlorn cousin Giangaleazzo (they were sisters' sons) in prison, 
and to hear the piteous pleadings of the beautiful Isabella, who fell at his feet 
and besought him to have mercy on her husband. Her appeal was withstood, 
and Ludovico of course had no scruple in setting aside the rights of her infant 
children. Fresh trials awaited her in her native country, to which she re- 
turned in 1500, and from which her family had been expelled. 

Note 397, page 204. Isabella d'Este, (born 1474; died 1539), was the oldest 
child of Duke Ercole I of Ferrara and Eleanora of Aragon. Having had Mario 
Equicola as preceptor, she married the Marquess Gianfrancesco Gonzaga (see 
note 446) in 1490, her early betrothal to whom prevented her from becoming 
the wife of Ludovico Sforza, the duke of Milan, who soon afterwards married 
her sister Beatrice. At Mantua she continued her literary and artistic train- 
ing, and her court became one of the brightest and most active centres of 
Italian culture. The chief poets and painters of the time laboured for her or 
were her friends. Being for years in her husband's service, Castiglione knew 
her closely, maintained a frequent exchange of letters with her, and is only 
one of many who praise her beauty, her intellect, and her moral qualities; she 
may be regarded as the most splendid incarnation of the Renaissance ideal of 
woman. Her long friendship with her sister-in-law, " My lady Duchess," has 
been already mentioned. Some interesting details have survived as to her 
manner of ordering a picture. Having chosen a subject, she had it set forth 
in writing by some humanist of her court. These specifications were then 
given to the painter chosen for the purpose, and he was furnished with minute 
directions as to the placing of the figures and the distribution of light, and 
required to make a preliminary sketch. As the painting was often intended 
for a specific space, she took great care to secure the exact dimensions desired, 
by providing two pieces of ribbon to show the precise height and breadth of 

398 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

the picture. Her career is the subject of many scholarly volumes and arti- 
cles written jointly by Alessandro Luzio of Mantua and Rodolfo Renier of 
Turin. The material thus collected was used by Julia Cartwright (Mrs. 
Henry Ady) in preparing her recent interesting life of Isabella. 

Note 398, page 204. Beatrice d'Este, (born 1475; died 1497), married Lu- 
dovico Sforza, Duke Regent of Milan, in the same year (1491) in which his 
niece Anna Sforza married Beatrice's brother Alfonso, the future husband of 
Lucrezia Borgia. Younger, apparently less beautiful, and certainly less ac- 
complished than her sister Isabella, Beatrice encouraged her husband's 
patronage of art and letters, and took part in his turbid political schemes. It 
will perhaps never be determined precisely to what extent she was responsi- 
ble for his treatment of his young nephew and of the latter's wife (see note 396), 
and for the disasters to Italy that ensued, but she is known to have exercised 
a great ascendency over her husband's mind, and he is said to have spent at 
her tomb the last night before his final capture and downfall. After the ex- 
pulsion of the French from Italy in 1512, her sons Maximilian and Fran- 
cesco Maria successively held the duchy for a time, until it passed into the 
hands of Spain in 1535. For an account of her life, the reader is referred to 
Mrs. Henry Ady's recently published "Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of Milan; a 
Study of the Renaissance," which, as well as the same writer's life of Isabella, 
owes much to the labours of Luzio and Renier. 

Note 399, page 205. Eleanora of Aragon, (born 1450; died 1493), was the 
elder sister of the Beatrice who married Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. A 
projected union with Ludovico Sforza (who afterwards married her daughter) 
having been abandoned, she became in 1473 the wife of Duke Ercole I of Fer- 
rara, and bore him two daughters and four sons. Other contemporary accounts 
confirm the praise bestowed upon her by Castiglione, and show her to have 
been a woman of rare merit, manly courage and enlightened culture. Fond 
of music, and herself a player upon the harp, she seems to have been a dis- 
criminating patroness of art and letters, and at the same time to have taken 
an active share in the serious cares of government, especially when her hus- 
band was absent or disabled. A pleasant glimpse of her character is gained 
from a letter written by her to the duke's treasurer on behalf of a certain Nea- 
politan engineer, who had rendered important services but had fallen ill and 
was in want. "You will see what this poor man's needs are. You know with 
what devotion he has served us, nor are you ignorant who sent him to us, — a 
circumstance worthy of consideration. It would ill become us so to treat him 
in his sickness as to give him cause for complaint against us. You must know 
what his pay is. See, then, what can be done, and arrange for helping him." 
She did not live to witness the downfall of her family in Naples. 

Note 400, page 205. Isabella del Balzo, (died 1533), was a daughter of 
the Prince of Altamura, and the wife of Federico III of Naples (see note 401). 
When her husband lost his crown in 1501, she (together with the faithful 

399 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Sannazaro) accompanied him to France, and shared his exile there until his 
death in 1504. Being, by the terms of a treaty between Louis XII and Ferdi- 
nand the Catholic, compelled to leave France, she and her four children took 
refuge, first with her sister Antonia at Gazzuolo, and then at Ferrara, where 
she was kindly treated and maintained by her husband's nephew Duke 
Alfonso d'Este. Here she spent the last twenty-five years of her life, but at 
times in such poverty that when Julius II placed Ferrara under the ban of 
the Church, she obtained special permission to have religious services per- 
formed in her house, on the plea that she had not the means wherewith to 
leave the city. 

Note 401, page 205. Federico III, (born 1452; died 1504), was a son of 
Ferdinand I of Naples, a younger brother of Alfonso II, and an uncle of his 
immediate predecessor, Ferdinand II. Having taken part in the weak resis- 
tance offered to Charles VIII's invasion of Naples in 1494, he became king 
on the early death of his nephew in October 1496, and seems to have tried to 
keep aloof from the turbulent schemes in which Alexander VI sought to 
involve him. After another vain attempt to withstand the invasion of Louis 
XII, and having been shamefully betrayed by the Emperor Maximilian and 
Ferdinand the Catholic, to both of whom he had appealed for aid, he retired 
with his wife and children to the island of Ischia (which furnished refuge at 
the same time to his widowed sister Beatrice, ex-Queen of Hungary, and to his 
widowed niece Isabella, ex-Duchess of Milan), ceded his crown to Louis XII 
in exchange for 30,000 ducats and the Countship of Maine, and spent the last 
three years of his life in France. 

Note 402, page 205. Federico's eldest son Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, 
was besieged in Taranto during the Franco-Spanish invasion which resulted 
in his father's downfall. On a sworn promise to set him free, he surrendered 
to the Great Captain (see note 239), but was treacherously detained and sent as 
a prisoner to Spain, where he was treated by Ferdinand the Catholic with 
almost royal honours. He continued to reside in Spain, and on the death of 
his mother in 1533, he was joined at Valencia by his two sisters. 

Note 403, page 205. The reference here is probably to the siege of Pisa by 
the Florentines in 1499, which was finally abandoned owing in part at least to 
the bravery of the Pisan women. Castiglione himself was the author of some 
Latin verses celebrating an incident of the siege. 

Note 404, page 205. TOMYRIS was in fact queen of the Massagetse, who 
were a nomadic people allied to the Scythians and dwelt north-east of the 
Caspian Sea. Herodotus relates that Cyrus the Great sent her an offer of 
marriage, and on being refused, invaded her kingdom and captured her son, 
but was finally defeated and slain, 529 B.C. The Artemisia referred to in the 
text is probably not the Queen of Halicarnassus (who fought on the Persian 
side at Salamis in 480 B.C.), but rather the sister-consort and successor of 

400 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

King Mausolus of Caria, a state on the western coast of Asia Minor. On her 
husband's death in 352 B.C., she reigned two years until she pined away for 
grief. The monument. Mausoleum, erected by her to his memory at Halicar- 
nassus, was regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world — the others 
being: the Egyptian pyramids, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the walls 
and hanging gardens of Babylon, Phidias's statue of Zeus at Olympia, the 
Colossus at Rhodes, and the lighthouse at Alexandria. Zenobia, an Arab by 
birth, was the second wife of Odenathus, King of Palmyra, which lay to the 
east of Syria. On the death of her husband, about 266 A.D., she acted as 
regent for her sons and seems to have shown great talent for war as well as 
for the arts of wise administration; but in her effort to extend her sway over 
the entire East, she was defeated by the Emperor Aurelian, and adorned his 
triumph in golden chains at Rome. She was allowed to spend the remainder 
of her life in dignified retirement at Tibur (Tivoli). Semiramis was the 
legendary daughter of the Syrian goddess Derketo, and with her husband 
Ninus was regarded as the founder of Nineveh. On his death she assumed 
the government of Assyria, built the city of Babylon and its wonderful 
gardens, conquered Egypt, etc. To her the Greeks ascribed nearly everything 
marvellous in the East. Her name appears in inscriptions as that of the 
consort of an Assyrian ruler who reigned 811-782 B.C. CLEOPATRA, (69-30 
B.C.), was directly descended in the eighth generation from Ptolemy I, the 
most noted of Alexander the Great's generals and the founder of the Egyptian 
dynasty that ended with her life. Her establishment as sole ruler, to the 
exclusion of her two brothers, was due to the favour of Julius Caesar, who 
is said to have acknowledged the paternity of her son Csesarion, ultimately 
put to death by order of Augustus. Her love of literature, and the refine- 
ment of her luxury, show her to have been no mere voluptuary. 

Note 405, page 206. Sardanapalus, — Assurbanipal, the Asnapper of the 
Old Testament, — ruled over Assyria from 668 to 626 B.C., and was the last 
monarch of the empire reputed to have been founded by Ninus and Semiramis. 
His name became a by-word for effeminate luxury, but in recent times the dis- 
covery and study of the larger part of the tablets composing his library, prove 
him to have been a vigorous king and an intelligent patron of art and literature. 

Note 406, page 207. In his life of Alexander, Plutarch extols the magnanimity 
with which the youthful monarch treated the captive mother, wife and two 
daughters, of Darius, the last King of Persia, whom he had utterly defeated in 
the battle of Arbela, 331 B.C. In furtherance of his plan of uniting his Euro- 
pean and Asiatic subjects into one people, Alexander afterwards married Ber- 
sine, the elder of Darius's two daughters. 

Note 407, page 208. This incident is narrated in Valerius Maximus's "Mem- 
orable Sayings and Doings" as having occurred in the first Spanish campaign 
of Scipio Africanus Maximus, 210 B.C., when that commander was in his 
twenty-fourth year. 

401 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 408, page 208. This story of the Platonist philosopher Xenocrates 
(396-314 B.C.) is derived from the same source last cited. His teaching was 
characterized by the loftiest morality, and included a declaration that it comes 
to the same thing whether we cast longing eyes, or set our feet, upon the 
property of others. The 'very beautiful woman' of the text is variously men- 
tioned as Phryne and Lais, rival hetairai said to have served as models to the 
painter Apelles. 

Note 409, page 208. Cicero's version of this anecdote {De Officiis, i, 40) men- 
tions Sophocles as the 'someone' rebuked by Pericles. 

Note 410, page 210. The Italians still say: 

Donna pregata, nega; 
E disprensata, prega. 

Note 411, page 213. The present translator prefers not to offer an English 
version of the following passage, but to reprint it, line for line, from the Aldine 
folio of 1528: 

si che questo piu tosto un stratogema militare dir si 
poria, che pura continentia: auenga anchora che la fama di questo non 
sia molto sincera: perche alcuni scrittori d'authoriti affermano questa 
giouane esser stata da Scipione goduta in amorose delicie: ma di quel- 
le che ui dico io, dubbio alcuno non h. Disse il Phrigio, Douete ha 
uerlo trouato ne gli euangelii. Io stesso I'ho ueduto rispose M. Ces. & 
per6 n'ho molto maggior certezza, che non potete hauer, ne uoi, ne al- 
tri che Alcibiade si leuasse dal letto di Socrate non altrimeti, che si fac- 
ciano i figlioli dal letto de i padri: che pur strano loco, e tempo era il let 
to, & la notte, per contemplar quella pura bellezza: laqual si dice che a- 
maua Socrate senza alcun desiderio dishonesto, massimamente amado 
piu la bellezza dell'animo, che del corpo: ma ne i fanciulli & n6 ne i 
uecchi, anchor che siano piu sauii: & certo non si potea gia trouar mi- 
glior exempio, per laudar la continentia de glihomini, che quello di 
Xenocrate: che essendo uersato ne gli studii, astretto, & obligate dalla 
profession sua, che h la philosophia, laquale consiste ne i boni costumi, 
& non nelle parole, uecchio, exhausto del uigor naturale, no potendo, 
ne mostrando segno di potere, s'astenne da una femina publica: laquale 
per questo nome solo potea uenirgli k fastidio: piu crederei che fosse sta 
to continente, se qualche segno de risentirsi hauesse dimostrato, & in tal 
termine usato la continentia: ouero astenutosi da quello, che i uecchi 
piu desiderano che le battaglie di Venere, c\oh dal uino: ma per com- 
probar ben la continentia senile, scriuesi che di questo era pieno, & gra 
ue: & qual cosa dir si po piu aliena della continentia d'un uecchio: che 
la ebriet^? & se Io astenerse dalle cose ueneree in quella pigra, & fredda 
eti merita tanta laude, quanta ne deue meritar in una tenera giouane> 
come quelle due di chi dianzi u'ho detto? dellequali I'una imponedo 
durissime leggi k tutti i sensi suoi, non solamente ^ gliocchi negaua la 

402 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

sua luce, ma toglieua al core quei pensieri, che soli lungamete erano sta 
ti dulcissimo cibo per tenerlo in uita. I'altra ardente innamorata ritro- 
uadosi tante volte sola nelle braccia di quelle, che piu assai, che tutto'l 
resto del mondo amaua, contra se stessa, & contra colui, che piu, che se 
stessa le era caro, combattendo uincea quello ardente desiderio che spes 
so ha uinto, & uince tanti sauii homini. No ui pare hora S. Gasp, che 
douessino i scrittori uergognarsi di far memoria di Xenocrate in que- 
st© caso? & chiamarlo per continente? che chi potesse sapere, io metterei 
pegno che esso tutta quella notte sino al giorno sequete ad hora di de- 
sinare dormi come morto sepulto nel uino: ne mai per stropicciar che 
gli facesse quella femina, potfe aprir gliocchi, come se fusse stato all'opia 
to. Quiui risero tutti glihomini & donne: & la S. Emil. pur ridedo Ve 
ramente disse S. Gasp, se ui pensate un poco meglio credo che trouare- 
te anchor qualche altro bello exempio di continentia simile k questo. 
Rispose M. Ces. No ui par Signora, che bello exempio di continentia 
sia quell' altro che egli ha allegato di Pericle? Marauigliomi ben chel 
non habbia anchor ricordato la continetia, & quel bel detto, che si scri 
ue di colui, k chi una donna domad6 troppo gran prezzo per una not 
te, & esso le rispose, che non compraua cosi caro il pentirsL- Rideasi tut 
ta uia & M. Ces. hauendo alquanto tacciuto .... disse: 

The only other instance in which the translator has suppressed any part of 
the text is in line lo of page 212, where the Italian word igntida is not rendered. 

Note 412, page 214. The event occurred in 1501, six years before the date of 
the Courtier dialogues. 

Note 413, page 214. The Volturno flows through Capua. 

Note 414, page 214. Gazuolo or Gazzuolo is now the name of an Italian 
commune, containing less than 5,000 inhabitants, and situated eleven miles 
west of Mantua. 

Note 415, page 214. The Oglio is a river of Lombardy about 135 miles long; 
it traverses the Lake of Iseo, and joins the Po some ten miles south-west of 
Mantua. 

Note 416, page 214. In two earlier MS. versions of The Courtier, the pas- 
sage 'Now from this . . . even her name is unknown' reads: "Then messer 
Pietro Bembo said: 'In truth, if I knew this noble peasant girl's name, I would 
compose an epitaph for her.' 'Do not stop for that,' said messer Cesare; 'her 
name is Maddalena Biga, and if the Bishop's death had not occurred, that bank 
of the Oglio'" etc. 

With slight variations this story is narrated as fact in a letter of Matteo 
Bandello (1480-1562), from whose tales Shakspere took plots for his plays. 
The letter gives the poor girl's name as Giulia and that of the Bishop of 
Mantua as Ludovico Gonzaga, and relates that, as it was unlawful to bury 

403 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

her remains in consecrated soil, he caused them to be deposited in the piazza, 
intending to place them in a bronze sarcophagus mounted on a marble 
column. The letter also affirms that the ravisher was one of the bishop's 
valets. 

Note 417, page 215. This was Ludovico Gonzaga, (born 1458; died 1511), 
a son of the Marquess Ludovico of Mantua and Barbara of Brandenburg, and 
a younger brother of " my lady Duchess's" father. Made Bishop of Mantua 
in 1483, he continued to hold that office until his death, and appears from 
various contemporary documents to have been a liberal and wise prince. 
The last years of his life were spent at Gazzuolo, which he made a centre of 
culture, art and learning. His brother Gianfrancesco was husband of the 
Antonia del Balzo mentioned above, note 400. For particulars regarding him, 
see an article by Rossi in the Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana, 
xiii, 305. 

Note 418, page 215. The basilica of St. Sebastian, on the Appian Way, dates 
from the 4th century, was built over the most famous of the catacombs, and 
enjoyed an exceptional veneration during the Middle Ages. The saint was a 
young military tribune born in Gaul, suffered martyrdom under Diocletian 
about the year 288, and was buried in the catacombs of Callistus. St. George 
and he were the favourite saints of chivalry, and may be regarded as the 
martial Castor and Pollux of Christian myth. 

Note 419, page 216. Felice della Rovere, (died about 1536), was a 
natural daughter of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere (afterwards Julius II) and 
a certain Lucrezia, the wife of Bernardo de Cuppis (or Coppi) da Montefolcc; 
thus "my lord Prefect" of THE Courtier was her own cousin. In 1506 she 
became the second wife of the elderly and eccentric Giangiordano Orsini, and 
the ancestress of the Dukes of Bracciano. Her name often occurs in contem- 
porary documents, not only on account of her lofty position but because of 
her love of art and letters. Both Castiglione and Giancristoforo Romano were 
her friends. The incident mentioned in the text seems not to be referred to 
elsewhere. Savona, a seaport on the western Riviera, is near the birthplace 
of Felice's great- uncle, Pope Six^us IV, who was the founder of the della 
Rovere family. 

Note 420, page 216. Duke Guidobaldo's impotence is said to have given 
rise to the project of a divorce for his duchess. 

Note 421, page 218. The reference here is to Ovid's Ars Amandi, which 
enjoyed an extraordinary reputation during the Renaissance, and from which 
this passage is largely derived. 

Note 422, page 220. The Laura to whom Petrarch consecrated no less 
than three hundred and eighteen sonnets, is usually regarded as identical 

404 



NOTES TO THE THIRD BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

with Laure, the daughter of a certain knight of Avignon, Audibert de Noves. 
If this identification be correct, she was born in 1308, married Hughes de Sade 
in 1325, became the mother of eleven children, and died in 1348. In 1533 
Francis I caused her reputed tomb to be opened, and found in it a small box 
which contained a medal bearing a woman's profile, and a parchment on 
which was a sonnet signed by Petrarch. 

Note 423, page 220. The so-called "Song of Solomon" is now thought to be 
the work of a period later than Solomon's and to contain no mystic meaning. 

Note 424, page 222. In the old romance, "Amadis of Gaul," Isola Ferma is 
an enchanted island, with a garden at the entrance to which stands an arch 
surmounted by the statue of a man holding a trumpet to his mouth. When- 
ever an unfaithful lover attempts to pass, the trumpet emits a dreadful sound 
with fire and smoke, and drives the culprit back ; while it welcomes all true 
lovers with sweetest music. 

Note 425, page 228. Here again the reference is of course to "my lady 
Duchess." 

Note 426, page 235. The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, first published by 
Aldus in 1499, was written by Francesco Colonna, a Dominican friar of Venice, 
who died an old man in 1527. The book is rare, and is said to be an allegorical 
romance full of lascivious erudition, and written in a pedantically affected 
mixture of Italian, Latin, and Venetian patois. 

Note 427, page 237. Ars Amandi, i, 597-602. 

Note 428, page 237. Ars Amandi, i, 569-72. 



405 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 429, page 243. Caspar Pallavicino died in 1511, at the age of twenty- 
five. 

Note 430, page 243. Cesare Gonzaga died in 1512, at about the age of thirty- 
seven. See note 43. 

Note 431, page 244. Federico Pregoso was named Archbishop of Salerno in 
1507, very soon after the date of the Courtier dialogues; see note 41. 

Ludovico da Canossa became Bishop of Bayeux in 1520; see note 44. 

Ottaviano Fregoso became Doge of Genoa in 1513; see note 11. 

Bibbiena was made cardinal, and Bembo was appointed ^papal secretary, in 
1513; see notes 10 and 42. 

Giuliano de' Medici was created Duke of Nemours in 1515. As he died in 
1516, Castiglione's use of the present tense ('that greatness where now he is') 
is inconsistent with the mention of Canossa as Bishop of Bayeux. See note 9. 

Francesco Maria della Rovere succeeded to the dukedom in 1508; see 
note 3. 

Note 432, page 244. Eleanora Gonzaga, (born about 1492; died 1543), was 
the eldest daughter of the Marquess Gianfrancesco of Mantua and Isabella 
d'Este. In 1505 Castiglione negotiated her union with Francesco Maria della 
Rovere, but the marriage did not take place until Christmas Eve 1509, upon 
which occasion Bembo wrote to Federico Fregoso that he had never seen a 
comelier, merrier or sweeter girl, and that her amiable disposition and sur- 
prisingly precocious judgment won general admiration. She seems to have 
maintained affectionate relations with her aunt and predecessor (" my lady 
Duchess" of The Courtier), whose fame quite outshone her own, and to have 
exhibited in after life no little strength of character. She is said to have 
excluded, and even to have expelled, great ladies of questionable morality from 
her court. Titian's portrait (1537) represents her in middle age, but his pic- 
tures. La Bella and Das Madchen im Pels, as well as several of his Venus heads, 
are generally regarded as idealized presentations of her more youthful face. 

Note 433, page 249. The Piazza d'Agone occupied the site of the ancient 
Circus Agottalis, which derived its name from the Agonalia, a festival held 
twice a year in honour of Janus. Before, during and long after Castiglione's 
time, it was a centre of festivals, amusements and spectacles at the carnival 
season. It is now called the Piazza Navona. 

Note 434, page 250. The famous Athenian commander CiMON, (died 449 B.C.), 
407 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

was the son of the still more famous Miltiades. His victories repulsed the 
last Persian aggressions and consolidated the Athenian supremacy. Although 
an admirer of Spartan institutions, he seems to have been of a somewhat in- 
dulgent disposition. The SCIPIO here referred to, is probably Publius Cor- 
nelius Scipio the Elder, who was the victor over Hannibal and died 183 B.C. 
LUCULLUS is cited earlier in THE COURTIER as an instance of a soldier with 
studious tastes; see note 113. 

Note 435, page 250. The Theban general and statesman EPAMINONDAS, 
(died 362 B.C.), is said by Plutarch to have enjoyed the instruction of the 
Pythagorean philosopher Lysis of Tarentum, who was driven out of Italy in 
the persecution of his sect, and found refuge at Thebes. 

Note 436, page 250. Agesilaus was King of Sparta 398-361 B.C. Although 
small and lame, he was the greatest Spartan commander, and became famous 
for his victories against the Persian and Greek enemies of his country. XenO- 
PHON, historian, essayist and disciple of Socrates, was banished from Athens 
about the time of Socrates's death (399 B.C.), accompanied Agesilaus into Asia, 
and wrote a panegyric upon him, regarded by Cicero as more glorious than 
all the statues erected to kings. 

The reverence and love of SciPIO THE Younger (about 185-129 B.C.) for the 
Rhodian Stoic philosopher Pan^tiUS (about 180-111 B.C.) is frequently men- 
tioned by Cicero, from whose De Oratore Castiglione seems to have taken this 
whole passage. 

Note 437, page 252. In Greek mythology Epimetheus (Afterthought) and 
Prometheus (Forethought) were sons of the Titan lapetus and the ocean 
nymph Clymene. Angered by a deceit practised upon him by Prometheus, 
Zeus withheld from men the use of fire; but Prometheus stole fire from heaven 
and brought it to earth in a hollow reed. For this offence he was chained to 
a rock where an eagle preyed daily upon his liver (which grew again in the 
night), until he was finally liberated by Hercules. As compensation for the 
boon of fire, Zeus sent Pandora (the first woman, endowed with beauty, cun- 
nrng and other attributes designed to bring woe to man) to be the wife of Epi- 
metheus. Although warned by his brother, Epimetheus accepted her, with 
the result that she set free the evils which Prometheus had concealed in a 
box. In a later form of the legend, she received from the gods a box contain- 
ing the blessings of life, and on her being moved by curiosity to open the box, 
all of them (saye hope) escaped and were lost. 

Note 438, page 263. Bias was born at Priene in Asia Minor, and lived in 
the 6th century B.C. He was celebrated for his apothegms and reckoned 
among the Seven Sages of Greece, — the other six being: Thales of Miletus, 
Solon of Athens, Chilon of Sparta, Cleobulus of Rhodes, Periander of Corinth, 
and Pittacus of Mitylene, — all of whom flourished about 600 B.C. The fame 
of these seven men rested not upon their philosophy, as we use the word, but 
upon their practical wisdom — the fruit of experience. 

408 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 439, page 264. Clearchus, (died 353 B.C.), was for twelve years a 
cruel tyrant, not of Pontus, but of Heraclea (the modern Eregli), a city on the 
Black Sea about 140 miles east of Constantinople. He is said to have been a 
pupil of both Plato and Isocrates, the latter of whom represents him as a 
gentle youth. 

Note 440, page 264. Of the dozen or more ancients known to have borne the 
name Aristodemus, none seem to fit precisely the description given in the 
text, which is taken from a passage in Plutarch's "On the Ignorant Prince." 
Plutarch may have had in mind a certain tyrant of Megalopolis in the 3d 
century B.C. 

Note 441, page 269. The reference here is to Book V of "The Republic." 

Note 442, page 270. Fregoso here declares for what has been called "that 
Utopia of the i6th Century — the Goveruo Misto — a political invention which 
fascinated the imagination of Italian statesmen much in the same way 
as the theory of perpetual motion attracted scientific minds in the last cen- 
tury." (Symonds's " Renaissance in Italy," i, 306.) In this regard the men of 
Castiglione's time, men like Machiavelli and Guicciardini, were only following 
Plato and Aristotle. 

Note 443, page 270. The reference here is to the Cyropcedia, i, 6. 

Note 444, page 270. Castiglione seems to have in mind the game oltaTiola 
reale, which is similar to our backgammon. 

Note 445, page 273. Circe's transformation of some of Ulysses's companions 
into swine is narrated in the tenth book of the Odyssey. In Castiglione's day 
the term " King of France" was used to signify the acme of royal power. 

Note 446, page 274. Gianfrancesco — more commonly called FRANCESCO 
— GONZAGA, (born 1466; died 1519), was the eldest son of the Marquess Fede- 
ricoof Mantua and Margarita of Bavaria, and a brother of "my lady Duchess." 
Having succeeded his father in 1484, he married (1490) Isabella d'Este, to 
whom he had been betrothed at the age of sixteen. Like his ancestors and 
most other petty Italian rulers of his time, he was at once condottiere and 
sovereign prince. He commanded the Italian troops against Charles VIII, 
and although with an overwhelmingly superior force he failed to block the 
retreat of the French at Fornovo, he treated that disgraceful affair as a glori- 
ous victory, and even caused it to be commemorated by Mantegna in a votive 
picture now in the Louvre. He served successively as captain of the imperial 
troops in Italy, as commander of Duke Ludovico Sforza's army, as viceroy of 
Naples under Louis XII, etc. He joined the League of Cambray and was 
taken prisoner by the Venetians. In the general disorders that filled the 
period of his reign, he and his more brilliant wife had the address to protect 

409 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

his dominions from the ravages of war. Although, as Castiglione's natural 
lord, he was asked and gave his consent to the latter's entry into the Duke 
of Urbino's court (1504), he seems to have continued to resent the affair until 
Castiglione's return (1516) to his service, — in which the author remained when 
this part of the text was written. Castiglione's eulogy was far from unde- 
served, for to the Marquess's munificence, no less than to his consort's taste 
and enthusiasm, must be ascribed the lustre of their provincial court. Besides 
being a patron of art and letters, he was also a successful breeder of horses 
for use both in war and in racing. 

Note 447, page 274. The duke is said to have had no small share in plan- 
ning the palace; his chief architect was one Luciano, a native of Laurana in 
Dalmatia on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The cost of the structure was 
about £400,000 sterling. See, besides the authorities cited in note 28, Luzio 
and Renier's Mantoaa e Urbino, (Roux: Turin: 1893), p. 10, note i. 

Note 448, page 274. The ancient basilica of St. Peter's had become ruinous 
by 1450, but little was done towards rebuilding it until 1506, when the execution 
of Bramante's plan was begun with the solemn laying of the first stone by 
Julius II on Sunday, 18 April. On the death of Bramante, Raphael was put in 
charge of the work in 1514, as we have seen (note 98), but, apparently owing to 
lack of funds, progress was slow until 1534 when Michelangelo's designs were 
substituted. The dome was completed in 1590, and the church dedicated 
in 1626. 

Note 449, page 274. This 'street' was designed by Bramante to be a kind 
of triumphal way connecting the Vatican with the Belvedere pavilion. It was 
to be bordered by palaces, courts, gardens, porticoes, terraces, etc., but the 
death of Julius II led to the abandonment of the plan. 

Note 450, page 274. Pozzuoli (the ancient Puteoli), situated seven miles 
west of Naples, was originally a Greek city, but became one of the chief com- 
mercial ports of the Roman Empire, and a resort of the patrician class. It is 
noted for its ruins, especially those of a large amphitheatre. 

Baja(the ancient Baiae), on the Gulf of Pozzuoli, was the chief Roman water- 
ing place, famous for its luxury, and containing the villas of many celebrated 
Romans. Its principal antiquities are ruins of baths. 

Civita Vecchia lies on the coast about thirty-eight miles north-west of 
Rome, and was anciently known as Centum Cellae. The Emperor Trajan 
(reigned 98-117 A.D.) converted it from a poor village into a great seaport, and 
of his monuments some remains are still extant. 

Porto was a Roman city near the mouths of the Tiber. In Castiglione's 
time it had become a marshy island. One of the earliest Italian archaeologists, 
Flavio Biondo, visited the site in 1451, and found there many huge marble 
blocks ready for building and bearing quarry marks of the imperial period. 
The Apollo Belvedere was discovered here in 1503. 

410 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 451, page 274. Almost the same phrase occurs in the well known letter 
which Raphael (who had been appointed guardian of antiquities) wrote to Leo 
X, urging the pontiff to avert the complete destruction of "that little which 
remains of Italian glory and greatness in proof of the worth and power of those 
divine minds." Castiglione was long supposed to be the author of the letter, 
but is now believed only to have aided Raphael in its composition. 

Note 452, page 274. Alexandria was founded by the conqueror in 332 B.C. 

Bucephalia (founded 327 B.C.) was situated on the river Hydaspes (the 
modern Jhelum), a branch of the Indus, about 120 miles north-west of Lahore, 
and was named in honour of Alexander's favourite horse, which died there. 
Bucephalus (ox-headed) is supposed to have been a name given to Thessalian 
horses, which were branded with a bull's head. 

Note 453, page 274. Mount Athos (6780 feet high) forms the extremity of the 
easternmost peninsula of Chalcidice in Macedonia. During the Persian inva- 
sion of Xerxes (480 B.C.) it was temporarily converted into an island, and since 
the Middle Ages has been noted for its monasteries. Both Vitruvius and 
Plutarch give an account of the project mentioned in the text, and ascribe it 
to a Macedonian architect who appears under the names, Dinocrates, Cheiro- 
crates, and Stasicrates, — and who also planned the city of Alexandria and 
was chosen to rebuild the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The statue 
was to represent Alexander, who is said to have abandoned the idea when he 
learned that the city to be placed in the hand of the statue vvould be without 
territory and could be provisioned only by sea, — saying that such a city would 
be like a child that cannot grow for failure of its nurse's milk. 

Note 454, page 275. In Athenian legend PROCRUSTES was a cruel robber, 
who had a bed upon which he tortured his captives by stretching those who 
were too short and by cutting off the legs of those who were too long. He 
was finally slain by the hero Theseus. 

SciRON was another legendary Attic robber, who compelled his victims to 
wash his feet on the Scironian rocks near Athens, and then kicked them into 
the sea where they served to fatten the turtles upon which he fed. He also 
was slain by Theseus, and in the same manner in which he had slain others. 

In Roman myth Cacus was a gigantic son of Vulcan, living near the site of 
Rome. He robbed Hercules of some of the cattle stolen from the monster 
Geryon, and dragged them into his cave backwards, so that they could not be 
tracked; but Hercules discovered them by their lowing, and slew the thief. 

DiOMED (not the Argive prince of the Iliad, but Ares's mythical son, who 
was king over the Bistones in Thrace) was slain by Hercules because he was 
accustomed to feed his mares on human flesh. 

Ant^us was a fabulous and gigantic wrestler of Libya, reputed to be the 
son of Poseidon and Gaea, the Earth goddess. Being held aloft and thus 
deprived of the miraculous strength derived from contact with his mother 
earth, he was crushed to death by Hercules. 

411 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Geryon was the mythical three-headed king of Hesperia, the theft of whose 
cattle constituted the tenth of the Twelve Labours of Hercules. 

Note 455, page 275. "The crimes of the tyrants against their subjects and 
the members of their own families had produced a correlative order of crime 
in the people over whom they tyrannized. Cruelty was met by conspiracy. 
Tyrannicide became honourable; and the proverb, ' He who gives his own 
life can take a tyrant's,' had worked itself into the popular language." (Sy- 
monds's " Renaissance in Italy," i, 154.) " The study of the classics, especially 
of Plutarch, at this time as also during the French Revolution, fired the 
imagination of patriots." (Id., 151, note 2.) 

Note 456, page 275. Similar exhortations to a fresh crusade are of frequent 
occurrence in Italian literature of this period, and were often used by popes 
and princes as a cover for their selfish designs. 

Note 457, page 275. The meaning obviously is that if they had not been 
exiled, they never would have enjoyed their present prosperity. Plutarch 
tells the story in four slightly varying forms. 

Note 458, page 276. Monseigneur d'Angouleme afterwards became 
Francis I (see note iii). Even stronger evidence of the author's admiration 
than this and another passage (see page 57), is afforded by the Proem with 
which he originally intended to preface the dialogues, but for which he seems 
to have been led by political considerations to substitute the introduction 
finally printed. 

Note 459, page 276. HENRY, PRINCE OF Wales, afterwards Henry VIII, 
(born 1491; died 1547), was the younger son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of 
York, and was educated for the church. Having succeeded his father in 1509, 
he married (in accordance with his parents' wish) his elder brother Arthur's 
widow, Catherine, the youngest child of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic. 
His accession was hailed with enthusiasm. Left rich through his father's 
avarice, he was generous, frank, handsome, exceptionally robust, and an 
accomplished athlete and scholar. Good men were delighted with the purity 
of his life, his gaiety pleased the courtiers, and sober statesmen found in him a 
singular capacity for business. Besides being a musician, he spoke Latin, 
French and Spanish, and was very devout, — usually attending mass five times 
daily. Even as late as 1521 he dedicated to the pope an anti-Lutheran tract 
on the Seven Sacraments, and in return received the title of Defender of the 
Faith. As an offset to the enormities of his later life, it is only just to remem- 
ber that he raised England to the rank of a great European power, and that 
for twenty years he did nothing to mar the harmony of his reign. 

Note 460, page 276. 'His great father,' i.e., Henry VII, (born 1457; 
died 1509), was the son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, (a son of Henry 

412 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

V's widow Catherine), and Margaret Beaufort, whose paternal grandfather 
was an illegitimate half-brother of Henry IV. After the downfall of the 
House of Lancaster and the death of the young York princes, Henry suc- 
ceeded in gathering a strong party, landed in England and wrested the crown 
from Richard III, 1485. Soon afterwards, by his marriage to Edward IV's 
daughter Elizabeth of York, he united the hostile factions that had so long 
harassed the kingdom. As a ruler he was avaricious, calculating, and far 
from popular. He is said to have left a treasure of £'2,000,000 sterling. The 
marriage of his daughter Margaret to James IV of Scotland finally led (on the 
failure of his son's issue) to the. accession of the Stuarts in the person of her 
grandson, James I. 

Note 461, page 276. This is consistent with the earlier passage (see page 8) 
where Castiglione pretends to have been absent in England at the date of the 
Courtier dialogues. An earlier MS. version here reads: "as we are told by 
our friend Castiglione, who has just returned from England," which accords 
with what we have seen (note 23) to be the fact. 

Note 462, page 276. Don Carlos, afterwards the Emperor Charles V, (born 
1500; died 1558), was the son of the Emperor Maximilian's son Philip of Austria, 
and of Juana, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella the Catholic. Born and bred 
in the Low Countries, and educated at least partly under the care of the future 
pope Adrian VI, he is said to have shown less taste for study than for military 
exercises, and on his accession to the Spanish throne in 1516, he was ignorant 
of the Spanish language. By right of his grandmother Mary of Burgundy, he 
already held the Netherlands. As representative of the house of Aragon, 
he was king of Naples and Sicily. On the death of his grandfather Maximilian 
in 1519, he inherited Austria, and (in spite of the rivalry of Francis I and the 
intrigues of Leo X) was elected Emperor; — thus achieving, without a blow, a 
dominion vaster than any in Europe since the time of Charlemagne. 

In an earlier MS. version the text here reads: "Then messer Bernardo Bib- 
biena said: 'I do not think that any of those present, except myself, have seen 
the prince Don Carlos, who, having recently lost such a father as the king 
Don Philip was, has shown such courage and wisdom in this great bereave- 
ment, that although he has not reached the tenth year of his age, we may 
nevertheless regard him as competent to rule over all his hereditary posses- 
sions, vast though they be, — and that the Empire of Christendom (which men 
think will be in his hands) must grow not a little in power and dignity.' " 

Note 463, page 279. Federico Gonzaga, the first Duke of Mantua, (born 
1500; died 1540), was the son of the Marquess Gianfrancesco Gonzaga and 
Isabella d'Este. At the age of ten he spent some time as the hostage-guest 
of Julius II at Rome, where he seems to have been generally caressed. Ra- 
phael is known to have introduced the boy's face into one of the Vatican fres- 
coes, and a little later to have painted his portrait. Having succeeded his 
father as marquess in 1519, he waged war for Leo X against the French. In 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

1527 he joined the league of Italian princes against Charles V, but went over 
to the Emperor's side two years later, and was created Duke of Mantua. In 
1531 he married Margarita Paleologus. Both Giulio Romano and Benvenuto 
Cellini were in his employ. 

Note 464, page 280. These lines were written after Ottaviano Fregoso's elec- 
tion as Doge of Genoa; see note 11. 

Note 465, page 281. In an earlier MS. version, my lady Emilia continues: 
" ' And even if it were so, I do not see how he is on that account set above the 
Court Lady.' The Magnifico Giuliano said: 'We regard the Lady as the equal 
of the Courtier, and according to my lord Ottaviano, the Courtier is superior 
to the Prince; therefore the Court Lady comes to be superior to the Prince.'" 

Note 466, page 284. Phoenix appears in the Iliad as appointed by Peleus to 
superintend the education of the latter's son Achilles 

Note 467, page 284. Aristotle was summoned (342 B.C.) to undertake the 
education of Alexander, who was then thirteen years old, and whom' no one 
had thus far been able to control. The philosopher's training continued unin- 
terruptedly for four years, included instruction in poetry, rhetoric, philosophy, 
physics, and medicine, — and is said to have had beneficial effect upon the 
future conqueror's character 

Note 468, page 285. Stagira lay on the easterly side of the Chalcidic penin- 
sula. Philip had destroyed it in his Olynthian campaign of 348 B.C., but 
rebuilt it at Aristotle's request and caused a gymnasium to be erected there, 
in a shady grove, for the use of the philosopher and his pupils, among whom 
was Alexander. 

Note 469, page 285. Plutarch expressly affirms that Alexander's policy, of 
uniting all the nations under his sway into a single people, was not founded 
on Aristotle's advice, as indeed an examination of the latter's political theories 
would seem to prove. 

Note 470, page 285. The Bactrians were an Aryan people dwelling on the 
upper Oxus, in what is now Afghanistan. They were conquered in 327 B.C. 
by Alexander, who married Roxana, the daughter of one of their princes. In 
ancient times the inhabitants of northern and eastern Europe and Asia were 
called Scythians. 

Note 471, page 285. Callisthenes was a cousin and fellow pupil of Alex- 
ander's. On Aristotle's recommendation, Alexander took Callisthenes with 
him on his Asiatic expedition of 334 B.C., but, exasperated by his young kins- 
man's plain-spoken disapproval of his conduct, had Callisthenes put to death. 

Note 472, page 285. Dio, (born about 408; died about 354 B.C.), was an 

4x4 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

austere Syracusan philosopher who became an ardent disciple of Plato on the 
occasion of the latter's short residence at the court of Dionysius the Elder, and 
later induced the younger DIONYSIUS also to invite Plato to Syracuse, where, 
however, the philosopher was unable long to check the tyrant's profligacy. 

Note 473, page 287. Bembo was thirty-six years old at the date of the 
Courtier dialogues. 

Note 474, page 288. In Book III of Bembo's Gli Asolani {1505), a hermit dis- 
courses to Lavinello on the beauty of mystical Christian love. Bembo had a 
villa called Lavinello, near Padua. 

Note 475, page 288. Much of the following disquisition seems to be drawn 
from Plato and from Bembo's Gli Asolani. As Bembo is known to have 
revised The Courtier before publication, we may assume that he was con- 
tent with the form and substance of the discourse here attributed to him. 

Note 476, page 294. STESICHORUS was a Greek lyric poet who lived about 
630-550 B.C., and was supposed to have been miraculously stricken blind after 
writing an attack upon Helen of Troy. His true name is said to have been 
Tisias, and to have been changed to Stesichorus because he was the first, to 
establish a chorus for singing to the harp. Fragments of his verse have 
survived. 

Note 477, page 294. These 'five other stars' are of course the five planets 
then known (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), in addition to the 
Sun and Moon, which were until long afterwards regarded as planets. "The 
sun, the moon and the five planets were always to be found within a region 
of the sky extending about 8° on each side of the ecliptic. This strip of the 
celestial sphere was called the Zodiac, because the constellations in it were 
(with one exception) named after living things (Greek foioi', an animal); it was 
divided into twelve equal parts, the Signs of the Zodiac, through one of which 
the sun passed every month, so that the position of the sun at any time could 
be roughly described by stating in what 'sign' it was." Arthur Berry's 
"Short History of Astronomy" (London, 1898), p. 13. 

Note 478, page 305. Castiglione here follows that version of the Hercules 
myth which represents the hero, tormented by the poisoned shirt sent him by 
the jealous Deianeira, as throwing himself upon a burning pyre on Mount 
CEta, whence he was caught up to heaven in a cloud. 

Note 479, page 305. Compare: Exodus, iii, 2; Acts, ii, 1-4; and II Kings, 
ii, 1 1-2. 

Note 480, page 307. This dialogue is by some represented as having actually 
taken place in the presence of Raphael. 



NOTES TO THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

Note 481, page 308. Plotinus was born in Egypt about 204 A.D., and 
taught philosophy at Rome. He lived so exclusively the life of speculation 
that he seemed ashamed of bodily existence, and concealed his parentage, 
birthplace and age. 

Note 482, page 308. St. Francis, (Gianfrancesco Bernardone, 1182-1226), 
was born and died at Assisi near Perugia, and was canonized in 1288. 

Note 483, page 308. II Corinthians, xii, 2-4. 

Note 484, page 308. Acts, vii, 54-60. 

Note 485, page 308. St. Luke, vii, 37. 

Note 486, page 309. Mount Catria lies less than twenty miles to the south- 
ward of Urbino, between Pergola and Gubbio, and rises a little more than a 
mile above the sea level. It is mentioned by Dante in the Paradiso (xxi, log). 



The stamp imprinted on the cover of this volume was engraved from an 
enlarged outline drawing made by Mr. Kenyon Cox from a photograph of one 
of the many examples of Castiglione's seal preserved in the Royal State 
Archives at Mantua. 



416 



LIST OF EDITIONS OF THE BOOK OF THE COURTIER 

COMPILED FROM THE FOLLOWING SOURCES: 

Copy in the Library of the Spanish Academy at Madrid, ace 

Copy in the Alessandrina Library at Rome, ala 

Copy in the Ambrosiana Library at Milan, amb 

Copy in the Angelica Library at Rome ang 

Copy in the National Library at Madrid bntn 

Copy in the National Library at Paris fenp 

'Biunet's Manuel du Zibraire {Paiis: 1860-65) *">* 

Copy in the Braidense Library at Milan, bra 

Copy in the British Museum, brm 

Biunet's Manuel du Libraire, Supplement (PSilis: 1878), bts 

Copy in the Casanatense Library at Rome cas 

Copy in the Cavriani Library at Mantua, cav 

Copy in the Chigiana Library at Rome, chi 

Copy in the Corsiniana Library at Rome cor 

MS. bibliographical notes by the late Count D'Arco, at Mantua, . . . ' d'a 

Copy examined by the translator in the National Library at Paris, exd 

List of editions appended to Fabi^'s (1873) edition of Boscan's Spanish translation, . . . fab 

Copy in the University Library at Jena, jen 

List of editions appended to Aristide Joly's De BaltJiasaarla CastilUonit opere cui tttulus " H 

Libra del Cortegiano," etc, (Caen : 1856), jol 

List of editions appended to Count Mazzuchelli's Life of Castiglione (Rome : 1879), . . . maz 

Copy in the New York Public Library, nyp 

Card Catalogue of the antiquarian bookseller Olschki, at Florence, ols 

Copy owned by the translator opd 

Giambattista Passano's I Novellieri Italianl (Turin : 1878) pas 

Article by Reinhardstottner in Jahrb, f. Miinchner Qesch, (1888, pp. 494-9), rei 

Copy in the Marciana Library at Venice stm 

Copy in the Vatican Library at Rome, vat 

Copy in the Vittorio Emanuele Library at Rome, vel 

List of editions appended to Count Carlo Baudi di Vesme's (1854) edition of THE COURTIER, ves 



417 



LIST OF EDITIONS 



THE LANGUAGK IS ITALIAN UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED 
DATES AND NAMES ENCLOSED IN PARENTHESES ARE NOT FREE FROM DOUBT 



1528 


Venice 


1528 


Florence 


(1529) 


Tusculano 


1529 


Florence 


1530 


Parma 


I53I 


Florence 


1531 


Parma 


1532 


Parma 


1533 


Venice 


1534 


Barcelona 


1537 


Florence 


1537 


Paris 


(1537) 


Lyons 


1538 


Venice 


1538 


Venice 


1538 


Venice 


1538 


Lyons 


1539 


Venice 


1539 


s. 1. 


1539 


Toledo 


1540 


Salamanca 


1540 


Paris 


1541 


Venice 


I54I 


Venice 


(1541) 


s. 1. 


1542 


Medina 


(1542) 


s. 1. 


1543 


Venice 


1544 


Venice 


1544 


Venice 


1544 


Antwerp 


1544 


s. 1. 


»54S 


Venice 


1545 


Paris 


1546 


Venice 


1546 


Paris 


»547 


Venice 


J547 


Venice 


1549 


Venice 


»549 


Venice 


1549 


Paris 


1549 


Paris 



Aldine Press : fol. : April : opd 

The heirs of Filippo di Giunta : 8vo : October : opd 

Alessandro Paganino : i2mo : stm 

The heirs of Filippo di Giunta : 8vo : opd 

Antonio di Viotti : 8vo : opd 

Benedetto Giunti : Svo : opd 

Antonio di Viotti : Svo : ves 

Antonio di Viotti : Svo : stm 

Aldine Press : Svo : with a few poems by Castiglione : exd 

Pedro Monpezat: fol.: Spanish version by Juan BoscanAlmogaver: fab 

Benedetto Giunti : Svo : brm 

For Jean Longis and Vincent Sertenas : Svo : French version by 

Jacques Colin : exd 

Denys de Harsy : Svo : Colin's French version : opd 

Vettor de' Rabani and associates : Svo : stm 

Giovanni Padovano for Federico Torresano d'Asola : Svo : . . . . exd 

Curzio Navd and brothers : Svo : cor 

Fran^oys Juste : Svo : Colin's French version revised by Estienne 

Dolet : exd 

Curzio Nav6 for Alvise Tortis : Svo : stm 

Printer not mentioned : Svo : abbreviation by Scipio Claudio : . . maz 

Printer not mentioned : 4to : Boscan's Spanish version : fab 

Pedro Touans for Guillermo de Milles : 410 : Boscan's Spanish 

version : ace 

Printer not mentioned : Svo : (Colin's) French version : ala 

Aldine Press : Svo : opd 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : i2mo : stm 

" T-A " : 4to : Boscan's Spanish version : fab 

Printer not mentioned : 4to : Boscan's Spanish version : brm 

Printer not mentioned : 4to : Boscan's Spanish version : bnm 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo : pas 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo : opd 

Alvise de Tortis : Svo : chi 

Martin Nucio : Svo : Boscan's Spanish version : fab 

Printer not mentioned : Svo : maz 

Aldine Press : fol. : opd 

Printer not mentioned : izmo : (Colin's) French version : . . . . brm 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo : exd 

For Arnoul I'Angelier: izmo: Colin's French version : opd 

Aldine Press : Svo : opd 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo : ma» 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : izmo : chi 

Alvise de Tortis : Svo : vei 

Gelles Corrozet : : (Colin's) French version : bnt 

Jean Lor : lemo: (Colin's) French version : vel 



419 



LIST OF EDITIONS 



1549 


8.1. 


1550 


Lyons 


X55I 


Venice 


155" 


Venice 


155a 


Venice 


1553 


Lyons 


1553 


Saragossa 


1554 


Florence 


1556 


Venice 


1556 


Venice 


1559 


Venice 


1559 


Venice 


1559 


Toledo 


1560 


Venice 


1561 


London 


1561 


Antwerp 


1561 


Wittenberg 


1562 


Venice 


156a 


Venice 


1562 


Lyons 


1562 


Venice 


1563 


Venice 


1564 


Venice 


1564 


s. 1. 


1565 


Venice 


1566 


Munich 


1568 


Venice 


1569 


Venice 


1569 


Wittenberg 


1569 


Valladolid 


1571 


London 


1573 


Venice 


1574 


Venice 


1574 


Venice 


»574 


Venice 


1574 


Antwerp 


1577 


Antwerp 


1577 


Strasbourg 


1577 


London 


»577 


London 


(»577) 


Paris 


1580 


Lyons 


1581 


Salamanca 


1584 


Venice 


X584 


Frankfort 


1585 


London 


1585 


Lyons 


1585 


Paris 


1585 


Paris 



Printer not mentioned : 4to : Boscan's Spanish version : .... ves 

Gulielmo Rovillio : i6mo : opd 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari and brothers : lamo : stm 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari and brothers : 8vo : text revised by Lu- 

dovico Dolce : ezd 

Domenico Giglio : i2nio : opd 

Gulielmo Rovillio: izmo: brm 

For Miguel de ^apila : 8vo : Boscan's Spanish version : fab 

The heirs of Bernardo Giunti: iCmo : stm 

Girolamo Scoto : 8vo : Dolce's text : cav 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : 8vo : Dolce's text : stm 

Simbeni for Bernardin Fagiani: Svo: with Paolo Giovio's Life of 

Castiglione : cav 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo: Dolce's text: brm 

Printer not mentioned : 4to : Boscan's Spanish version : . '. . , . mas 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo : Dolce's text : brm 

William Seres : 4to : English version by Thomas Hoby : . . . . brm 

The widow of Martin Nutio : Svo: Boscan's Spanish version : . . ala 

Johannes Crato : 4to : Latin version by Hieronymus Turler: . . . jen 

Francesco Rampazzetto : i2mo : cav 

Printer not mentioned : Svo : with Giovio's Life : opd 

Gulielmo Rovillio : i2mo : Dolce's text : opd 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : i2mo : ang 

Same edition as the last, with change of date on title-page : . , . . mas 

Same edition as the last, with change of date on title-page : . . . . stm 

Printer not mentioned : Svo: edition erroneously dated" MDXLIV": ves 

Gerolamo Cavalcalovo : i2mo : Dolce's text : stm 

Adam Berg : Svo : German version by Lorenz Kratzer : vat 

Domenico : i2mo : brm 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : i2mo : vel 

(Johannes Crato) : Svo : Turler's Latin version : maz 

Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba : Svo : Boscan's Spanish version 

expurgated : brm 

John Day : Svo : Latin version by Bartholomew Gierke : . . . . brm 

Comin da Trino : Svo : with Giovio's Life : opd 

Gabriel Giolito de' Ferrari : Svo : maz 

Comin da Trino : Svo : maz 

Domenico Farri : i2mo : Dolce's text : exd 

Philippo Nucio: Svo: Boscan's Spanish version : ezd 

Philippo Nucio: Svo: Boscan's Spanish version: bts 

Bernhardus Jobinus: Svo: Latin version of Book I by Johannes 

Ritius : ves 

Henry Bynneman : Svo